EPISD planning cuts to central office staff

EPISD planning cuts to central office staff

El Paso Independent School District Superintendent Juan Cabrera announced his reorganization plan Friday, which outlines his strategy for tackling declining enrollment and a $17 million budget deficit.

Cabrera said his plan revolves around an indefinite hiring freeze for non-campus positions and consolidating responsibilities for top-level employees rather than eliminating teaching jobs. A district spokeswoman said the district could be looking at firing a handful of central office employees. The rest of the cuts would come through retirement and the district closing vacancies.

"Anybody that works in the district that doesn't reside on a campus," Cabrera said. "So all those positions are on a hiring freeze. If a principal, assistant principal, nurse, librarian, retire or move, we'll replace those positions. If anybody retires, except maybe a CFO or something essential from any non-campus position, at this point, we're holding the line."

The superintendent said he plans to eliminate 63 non-campus positions, which would save the district nearly $3 million a year. Another roughly $9.5 million would be cut from non-payroll expenses -- things like travel reimbursements, overtime, and the construction and maintenance fund.

"We're trying not to reduce any active personnel at the central office, but we're reducing and consolidating when we have retirements and vacancies through attrition," Cabrera said. "But there may be some reductions at central office. That's the reality, because we've decided not to make any reductions at the campuses."

The district said typically, teachers leaving or retiring vacate between 200 and 300 jobs a year. However, the district is looking to displace about 171 teaching positions. That's happening through an extra round of early retirement incentives. About 113 teachers have already taken advantage of a $2,500 dollar retirement bonus. Now the district is giving a $2,000 bonus to the first 300 teachers or staff who submit their letters of resignation by May 15.

Cabrera is still in the process of searching for an interim CFO, a position has been vacant since January 2013. He said he and his staff will be negotiating with a candidate this weekend.

The district's budget needs to be passed by the end of June.

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