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MCISDlogoMISSION — Earlier estimates that the Mission Consolidated Independent School District was going to lose about five percent, or $5 million, in state funding have now increased and school administrators are looking at every avenue to avoid taking money from the district’s fund balance.

At their Wednesday meeting, Assistant Superintendent for Finance & Operations Lucio Mendoza said the latest estimates showed that MCISD could lose nine and a half percent, or $10.4 million, in the next school year. In 2012-2013 school year, that cost is estimated to be around $10.7 million.

“The cuts may be bigger than we had prayed for,” Mendoza said.

As the district starts its budget process for next year, Mendoza said officials are beginning to look at different cost-saving measures in order to have a balanced budget for the fall.

With its voluntary resignation incentive program, the district could save $3.4 million. The employees who leave the district will also help the district save on the cost of benefits at about $154,000.

Looking at line items, Mendoza recommended the district departments cut their budgets by at least five percent. The reduction could save $470,000. Transportation and electricity costs will not be affected under this plan.

“It looks like we’ll have to increase that number,” he said of budget departmental cuts.

In the line item analysis of potential cuts, MCISD has also begun looking at making financial cuts in health care insurance. As the district pays $318 on premiums to the $225 offered on their plan, officials may consider asking employees to help pay the remaining $93. At the minimum, with staff paying five percent of the excess, the district can save $104,394, and if the staff pays the full $93, the district can save $2 million.

“It’s not a reduction in benefits, it’s a shift of the percentage to the employees,” Mendoza explained.

Mendoza said the budget staff is also looking to other school districts to see how they’re making reductions. One newer option is cutting paid vacation holidays and benefits.

The district has 16 days that are paid holidays for a group of employees. By eliminating those costs, the district can save $30,000. Brownsville and Edinburg school districts are considering this option.

At their bare minimum, these suggested cuts could in total save the district $4.5 million. At the maximum MCISD could save $6.9 million.

Other future potential reductions could include the district’s student athlete accident coverage, which costs the district $289,000 a year.

Board members didn’t discuss or comment on any of the recommendations, only reacting negatively to the increased projected state cuts for the district.

“Instead of letting people go, let’s go ahead and tighten our belts for the next three years until it gets good again,” said Trustee Raymond Longoria. “It will get good.”

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