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Students take budget into their own hands
BEAUMONT- by Haley Bull
Beaumont students are taking the district's financial problems into their own hands in an effort to solve financial issues in the Beaumont school district.
The Texas Education Agency and BISD are gearing up for a court battle in Austin over the future of the district. Education Commissioner Michael Williams wants to replace school trustees with a board of managers and remove superintendent Dr. Timothy Chargois. Last month, a judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking those actions.
This week, it's not just the lawyers prepping for the hearing, BISD students are also planning on making the trip to Austin. After a week of protesting against possible lay-offs of more than 200 positions, the teens met Saturday to finalize the details of their trip and take the district's budget into their own hands.
"In my opinion you don't have to be an adult to know what you're talking about. I mean all of us here, we know exactly what we're talking about," Hope Flores, a BISD student, said.
On the agenda, the Beaumont school district's budget. Their goal:
"Our main priority is to try to reduce the number of teachers that will get laid off," Flores said.
The student's protest against Chargois' plan to cut more than 200 jobs, primarily teaching positions, in an effort save $25 million, is now a push to find solutions.
"I would not expect students to look at a budget and try to organize a budget," Antonio Trevino, a BISD student, said.
It's the budget for a district with a $15 million deficit the students want to fix.
"We need to show that we are gaining knowledge on these things," Trevino said.
Their ideas so far:
"Selling the naming rights to the Thomas Center," Trevino said.
"Cutting off unnecessary employment, the selling of unnecessary buildings as well," Robert Castillo, a BISD student, said.
"Increase the district's revenue, you know maybe fundraising of some sort," Flores said.
"Getting rid of some administrative pay," Trevino said.
The cost of solving district financial problems for these students is about more than the numbers.
"It's not just programs and teachers, people losing their jobs, it's much more to us," Castillo said.
"You know they probably look at our age and think oh they're just kids. But no, I think we're just people trying to make a difference trying to make a change," Flores said.
The students said they plan to protest outside Tuesday's court hearing and at Thursday's school board meeting.