Find out why no dramatic cuts are needed at HEB ISD

Gene Buinger

Credit: WFAA

HEB ISD Superintendent Dr. Gene Buinger works in a darkened office to save electricity.

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by CASEY NORTON

WFAA

Posted on February 16, 2011 at 6:19 PM

BEDFORD — Schools across Texas are bracing for massive budget cuts, and parents are wondering what it means for their children.

But the Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District saw the financial storm coming, and now it's ready to sail through this rainy day, preserving the jobs of teachers.

HEB ISD Superintendent Dr. Gene Buinger conducts business in a dark office to save every penny he can for teacher salaries.

Buinger is projecting up to $27 million in state cuts for his district. But HEB has a $70 million fund balance, thanks to a thrifty policy that has saved on power and water.

"We're using the public's money; it's not our money, it's the public's money," Buinger said. "So we ought to always efficiently and effectively use their dollars."

For years, the district has asked staff to turn out the lights. It also charges teachers $40 for classroom refrigerator permits.

Water from private wells refreshes the sports fields at the high schools.

And bus service is staggered, so one driver with one bus runs three routes for elementary, middle, and high school students.

"That's a budget cut we made a long time ago to build our cash balance and be in a situation where we could weather the storm," the superintendent said.

Parents like Faith Waligora scratched their heads when the changes were implemented, but now they see the payoff.

"It is a relief not to have to think there are going to be hundreds and hundreds laid off," Waligora said.

HEB schools will still try to identify another $5 million in cuts, but any jobs eliminated will come through attrition.

Dr. Buinger says that's the bright side to an otherwise dark story.

E-mail cnorton@wfaa.com

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