Bryant school board votes to cut $3 million, close Paron Elementary
BRYANT (KATV) — The Bryant school board made some tough decisions on Monday, voting to cut a little more than $3 million dollars from the district's budget at Monday night's board meeting. Included in the cuts is the closure of Paron Elementary in the Paron community.
The meeting was held inside the Love Auditorium at Bryant High School to accommodate for a larger than normal crowd.
Dr. Tom Kimbrell, Bryant superintendent, discussed four options of cuts, each totaling between $2.5 and $4 million. Plan "A" held the bulk of the cuts for the district and each subsequent plan included cuts from the plan before.
Kimbrell recommended going with Plan "B", which included the $2.5 million in cuts from Plan "A" plus shifting of payment of paraprofessionals, vacating two specialist openings and minimizing outside legal fees - totaling an additional $500,000.
The board voted to accept Plan "B" with an exception of trying to figure out how to not discontinue out-of-state travel for students.
Plan "A" , included in Plan "B" - includes rescheduling the school day at Bryant High School from an A/B block schedule to a seven-period day. The move would save the district an estimated $1.2 million. It also includes administrative budget cuts of 10% across the board, gets rid of emergency leave for all staff (not including sick leave bank), nixes the juvenile probation officer for the district and cancels the contract for Hill Farm Plant maintenance.
One of the hardest pills to swallow was the closure of Paron Elementary, which was part of Plan "A". Paron Elementary school only had 70 students. Dozens of parents turned out though to plead their case to school board members.
Both board members and Dr. Kimbrell stressed that closing Paron wasn't something they wanted to do, but said their hands were tied. Parents said they could have taken cuts from elsewhere. Kimbrell responded that if the cuts came from somewhere else, they'd have another crowd of upset people to deal with.
Plan "A" also planned to cut nearly $70,000 in transportation costs by stopping Boys & Girls Club transportation after school and discontinuing out of state field trips and travel, along with limiting travel of athletic teams to within 100 miles of the district. Several board members stressed the importance of students being able to travel and mentioned that if groups can prove they don't need school funding to travel they should be able to do it regardless.
The cuts are set to take effect during the 2015-2016 school year.