Exclusive: ‘Staffing Adjustment Plan’ shows which jobs La Joya ISD plans to eliminate
Twenty four nurse’s aides. Six carpenters. Two mechanics.
They’re among more than 200 positions the La Joya Independent School District plans to eliminate when the school year ends, according to information La Joya ISD released on Friday.
The school board approved a “Staffing Adjustment Plan,” which is designed to cut payroll costs by more than $24 million, in January. The 19-page document included a list of positions La Joya ISD no longer needs.
“When you look at our overall budget, where we could make a significant difference is staffing,” said Superintendent Gisela Saenz. “There are some other things that could bring some savings to the district, but the impact of other changes would not be significant and it would probably limit services either to staff or to students. So, from a practical point of view, really, staffing is where we can make the biggest impact on our budget.”
Trustees approved the plan amid concerns about enrollment.
“Over the course of the last few years, La Joya ISD has experienced a decline in student enrollment due to several factors which include the COVID-19 pandemic, building of more charter schools in the area, and slow growth in our territorial jurisdiction,” according to the plan, which La Joya ISD released under the Texas Public Information Act. “This decline in enrollment now require (sic) that La Joya ISD adjust staffing patterns to adequately sustain budgetary needs into the future in order to maintain (sic) current level of services to students and employees.”
The number of students enrolled at La Joya ISD dropped from 29,500 in October 2016 to fewer than 26,700 in October 2020, according to information published by the Texas Education Agency. Fewer students means less state funding.
La Joya ISD, though, didn’t reduce the number of employees on the payroll to match enrollment.
“The number of support staff has increased over the five-year period from 13.8 per 1,000 students in the 2016-2017 school year to 15.4 per 1,000 students in 2020-2021,” according to the plan. “Total central administrative staff increased from 1.6 to 2.0 per 1,000 students.”
To address the problem, administrators recommended La Joya ISD eliminate more than 200 positions when the school year ends. They included:
> 27 computer proctors
> 24 nurse’s aides
> 6 nurse assistants who handled COVID-19 contact tracing
> 6 carpenters
> 3 custodial managers
> 3 library processing clerks
> 3 groundskeeping managers
> 3 college readiness clerks
> 2 golf shop assistants
> 2 mechanics and a supervisor
The plan also proposed that La Joya ISD cut a significant number of administrative positions:
> A museum manager
> An assistant internal auditor
> A strategist who focused on “district wellness”
> A specialist in “academy marketing”
> An assistant director for physical plant operations
> A risk-management specialist
> An assistant director for transportation
> A specialist in “Elementary PE/Health”
> A “College, Career and Life Readiness” coordinator
> A “Student Attendance Accountability” coordinator
Exactly how many jobs La Joya ISD plans to cut remains unclear.
In January, when the school board approved the plan, a district spokeswoman said La Joya ISD would cut 139 positions. The plan released by the district on Friday, however, included more than 200 positions.
Some employees may find other jobs at La Joya ISD. Others may decide to leave the district if they can’t find a comparable position.
The plan caused an uproar in western Hidalgo County, where La Joya ISD is the largest employer.
Members of the American Federation of Teachers demanded the district find other ways to balance the budget.
“Before any staffing cuts or school closures are done, we need to know if the district has taken every other measure,” Brenda Lee Salinas, the president of the La Joya AFT, said during a news conference Monday.
Salinas said La Joya ISD should consider shutting down the Sports and Learning Complex and selling the Howling Trails Golf Course. Both cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
Asked about the AFT proposal, Saenz said selling the golf course or shutting down the Sports and Learning Complex wouldn’t provide La Joya ISD with significant, long-term savings.
The school board claims shutting down the “sports and learning center,” as well as selling off the “gulf course” would result in little savings. Selling them off would be an example of cutting expenses and working with the employees.
They also need to look at central office and eliminate jobs created within the past five or so years. These are high paying jobs and in some cases appear to be jobs where the employee is related or close friend of a board member and/or administrator.
It’s not fair that most cuts are seen from auxiliary staff while all departments saw an increase in staffing.
Retired rehire employees should be cut. Most of them are older professionals that cannot do their jobs. Specially administrators that cannot keep up with technology. Have teachers helping them with there job.