Little Elm ISD cutting jobs, closing schools

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on February 25, 2011 at 2:38 AM

Updated Friday, Feb 25 at 10:53 AM

LITTLE ELM — Faced with a double dose of troubling news, one Denton County school district started looking for answers last summer.

Two Little Elm schools are overcrowded, but the district can't build new ones because of a cap on bonds. And like most districts across Texas, they're facing big budget problems. Their solution was a massive reorganization, including closing two schools.

Looking for ways to create space and save money, Little Elm school administrators started walking the halls of their buildings last year. Brent Intermediate will close and become an elementary school.

“My daughter would have stayed at the school next year, but instead she's going to be moving to the sixth grade campus of our junior high,” said Lisa McAfee, a parent whose daughter attends Brent.

McAfee said with a statewide budget crisis looming, she understands the district's dilemma.

“It’s kind of like your household," she said. "If you have to cut back on items, you explain, 'Look, we need to pull the purse strings and we're going to make the most out of it and we're still going to be successful.'"

The district is also closing its pre-kindergarten school at the King Early Learning Academy.

“Anything that's not mandated by the state - if it's something we don't have to do - we're looking at eliminating that," said Lynne Leauthard, the LEISD superintendent.

The changes are widespread. All sixth graders will be at one school next year. Seventh and eighth graders will attend one middle school. Administrators will move out of their current offices to the high school and their old building will be turned into classrooms.

“We’re just going to have to ask people to do more with less," Leauthard said.

Administrators say the changes will eliminate 21 jobs, but save the district $717,000.

"We know that we're going to have to tell some employees that they no longer will have a position with the district," Leauthard said. "That's the sad part."

McAfee said as a parent, she feels good about the changes because she knows exactly where the district stands, no matter what happens with state lawmakers in Austin.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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