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AISD trustees declare budget emergency

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 by Elizabeth Pagano

In the conclusion of what President Mark Williams termed an “unbelievably difficult night and evening,” Austin Independent School District Board Trustees voted 7-2, with Trustees Annette LoVoi and Tamala Barksdale voting against, to declare financial exigency. The declaration will allow for the school district to remain legally protected as they slash a currently proposed 1,153 positions as a result of the school budget crisis.

It is the first step in enacting the staff cuts, the next being notifying employees whose jobs will be eliminated. (Though AISD has released a detailed list of the positions on the chopping block, this is not considered notification, although there were certainly surprised murmurs in the room at this clarification.)

Trustees seemed reluctant to take this step without having all the information from Legislature, and in the eleventh hour were still hoping to look for cost-saving alternatives. LoVoi even suggested they look at pricy car allowances. Superintendent Meria Carstarphen has recently come under fire for her $1,000 per month car allowance.

After extended conversation, trustees decided that a look into alternatives was warranted, although not enough to stall the process any longer, with Carstarphen declaring that they had answered enough questions, and it was time to take action.

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