Once again, Marlin Independent School District’s state-appointed board of managers was asked by the superintendent Tuesday to cut crucial positions from the district to help battle a $1.1 million deficit budget.
And once again, the board inched closer to fulfilling the superintendent’s original proposal to cut at least 10 positions, which failed earlier this year.
The board chose in a 3-2 vote to eliminate the district’s high school assistant principal position by not renewing the employee’s contract. However, a proposal to eliminate the athletic director’s position died on the floor without a second motion by board members. Board President Maggie Majors and board member Billy Johnson voted against eliminating the assistant principal’s position.
The district’s budget deficit is largely a result of dramatic bumps in teacher salaries intended to attract and retain talented educators in the struggling district. Marlin ISD faced potential closure when it failed state academic standards for the fifth year in a row last year and will face potential closure again if it fails this year’s standards.
Tuesday was the third time Superintendent Michael Seabolt proposed to cut the positions since the beginning of March. Only last month, board members took no vote on either position, which saved them temporarily.
“We’ve already eliminated a lot of teaching positions through attrition. We eliminated a lot last year just as they left and we didn’t fill them,” Seabolt said Tuesday after a resident questioned the number of salaried positions the district has had for the past three years. “School budgeting is complicated. It’s very complicated. How we get paid is complicated. Employees don’t understand it.
“You don’t know how many times I have a principal or employee come up and say, ‘I’ve still got lots of money in my budget.’ That budget exists on paper, money exists in the bank, and they’re two very different things.”
The athletic director and high school assistant principal were put on paid administrative leave in March, the day after the board voted against eliminating the full list of 10 positions. At the time, Seabolt said they were not placed on leave because of disciplinary issues, and neither administrator is under any type of investigation.
The assistant principal will now have 15 days to request a review in front of the board to possibly be rehired in another position in the district or be let go entirely, Seabolt said.
The cut is part of Seabolt’s plan to save the district about $550,000 next year and have a balanced budget again by the 2018-19 school year, school officials said during a meeting March 7.
As part of the same effort, the board voted last month not to renew contracts for several special education employees and to move the special education responsibilities to the Falls County co-op later this year.
The board also voted Tuesday to approve about 20 employee contracts, including some previous special education employees who will now work under the co-op because Marlin ISD is the fiscal agent, Seabolt said.
The board also voted to propose not renewing several other special education positions and to terminate a probationary teacher contract, with Majors abstaining from both of the proposals because they were out of her comfort zone, she said.
Majors also voted against not renewing several teacher term contracts, saying she made the choice for ethical reasons. She did not want to expand on her decision, she said after the board meeting.
It’s unclear whether Seabolt will try again to propose cutting the athletic director position, he said. Unlike Seabolt’s previous proposals, Tuesday’s did not place the middle school’s assistant principal position on the chopping block. He plans to phase both positions out eventually though, Seabolt said.
“Here’s the truth. Their employment in Marlin ISD will end, and it either ends this year or it ends July 1, 2018, and that’s for both of them: the middle school assistant principal and the athletic director,” Seabolt said. “I can’t predict the future, but I’ll say this. I’m not done quite yet. I’ve got another trick or two.”