Contrary to rumors making the rounds on Monday, Rio Vista schools are not closing because of a scarcity of funds.

In fact, the financial health of the district is improving, said school board President David Brunson.

“I think we’re slowly pulling out of it,” he said Tuesday. “It just takes time.”

Rio Vista ISD reduced its payroll by some $480,000 on Dec. 14 by cutting 11 teaching positions.

That announcement came at a meeting of the trustees.

On Monday, Superintendent Tim Wright officially notified those whose positions were eliminated.

“He did it by hand, and he also sent certified letters,” Brunson said. “I know that because I signed two letters for each person. I presume the certified letter is to create a paper trail.”

Monday was a work day for Rio Vista teachers, who were addressed by Wright in an assembly format.

“There were good, legitimate questions, and everyone was very cordial,” Brunson said. “Some of the teachers had heard rumors. Mr. Wright told them what he knew. He’s been pretty well up front with everything. He told them his door is open. He said he’d be glad to answer their questions.”

Closing the schools has never been discussed, Brunson said.

“I don’t think we’re anywhere near doing something like that,” Brunson said. “[Reducing the payroll] isn’t hurting the quality of what the kids are learning. We didn’t have to end any programs.”

Rio Vista ISD has been a lightning rod on the Times-Review Web site.

Nineteen readers added comments to a Dec. 16 story about the staff reductions.

All were passionate.

“This is absolutely disgraceful,” one wrote. “There’s lots of blame to be shared here, and none of it should fall on the teachers. The teachers are paying for a mess they were not aware of, and they did not create. What the RVISD school board has done is unconscionable.”

Another wrote, “Rio is going down the drain even farther than it already was. my opinion is take your kids away from there if you want them to have any opportunities in life. go to a school with a variety of electives and choices for your children.”

A reader identifying himself as Rio wrote, “We have fallen on unfortunate times in Rio Vista. There is not one person, nor one thing that anyone can point a finger at. However, there are a multitude of reasons that Rio Vista is in the financial crisis that it is in. There are a number of reasons that there were cuts in several areas of the district, our teachers are the frontline educators and must be supported by all, from the students, parents, staff, superintendant, board and state. The financial crisis stems from several areas,

“Remember 2 yrs ago when the state of Texas capped the tax rate, remember when your evaluation went down on your property? You are now paying less school taxes than you have in years, unless of course your exempt for age or disability. Average Daily Attendance has been over-estimated for several years in the district which each year the TEA funding is adjusted to meet the previous year’s ADA.

“So it is my understanding the district has a 750,000.00 line of credit from Wells Fargo that is running very thin. I understand that this is just to make payroll. I learned from a board member there are monies in the bank that are ear marked for bond and operations and that money can not mix due to state law. (I checked that out and it is true) You can not rob Peter to pay Paul.

“As well I learned the Bond is a separate issue that will allow the district to breathe a little in the budget by taking some maintenance dollars out of the budget , to replace air conditioners, buses, water well, put in an energy efficient management system as well as add some facilities to offer more programs, maybe this will help increase the enrollment which over the last 10 yrs has dropped close to 100 students, that ADA money over the last 10 yrs might have allowed some of the cuts to be delayed or perhaps not necessary.

“What I can not understand is when you don’t know the truthful facts and voice it anyway in the rumors and accusations being broadcast through out the media outlets that are available to us today just like this forum, just a place to vent. The board room is a good place for you to begin, as I have made the commitment to be at every board meeting, but more importantly I have spoken to board members and the superintendent.

“I have had every question answered that I have asked, the answers were not always what I wanted to hear but they were answers and most of them were decisions that no one wanted to make.

“They had to make them to keep the school open and attempt to balance the budget. I know that it has really burdened the board members that I have spoken with. They too feel responsible that they were not able to know a few years ago what they know today.”

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