Keller ISD braces for more cuts after tax hike defeat

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by CASEY NORTON

WFAA

Posted on June 20, 2011 at 6:18 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 20 at 6:20 PM

KELLER — Keller school buses are parked for the summer, but they could be lost in the weeds of budget cuts.

When Keller voters rejected a tax increase on Saturday, the school board says it all but eliminated bus service for 7,000 students in the district.

"Is it something we want to offer? Yes," said school board president Keven Stevenson. "But we are required to make sure students are educated in the classroom."

Stevenson said the district was prepared with its backup plan for cuts, known as Tier 2.

Tier 1 cut  $16 million from the budget; more than 200 teachers and staff were given layoff notices in the spring.

Keller was also one of the first districts to slash coaches from high school football teams.

Now the board has to find an additional $16 million to trim because the 13-cent tax increase did not pass.

Keller ISD Superintendent James Veitenheimer sent an e-mail to all employees on Monday, saying 250 jobs would be eliminated.

"There are a number of programs that will be reduced. And when you talk about what the classroom changes will be, they affect staff and teachers as well."

According to the district's Web site, Tier 2 cuts will go deeper into athletic programs by cutting coaches, trainers, and stipends.

Fine arts and music programs will lose nearly 30 teachers at elementary, intermediate and high school levels.

The district will also eliminate summer school for kindergarten through 4th and 6th and 7th grades.

KISD says it will save more than $2 million by halting regular bus service.

Students protested the budget tightening this spring, when they learned they were losing some of their favorite teachers.

Now their parents are learning that losing another 100 teachers will mean an average class size of 30:1 at the high school level.

Brian Boerner pushed for the tax increase. He told News 8 the cuts will be dramatic, and Keller ISD will never be the same.

"I think what we've done here is taken away from the high level of programs and education that have been performing at a top level in the past," he said.

The Keller school board will talk about Tier 2 cuts on Monday, June 27. A vote to finalize the new budget could come on July 12.

E-mail cnorton@wfaa.com

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