Students in the Magnolia School District will take fewer field trips, use existing textbooks, or make due without, and their teachers will attend fewer conferences, the district's Board of Trustees decided Monday.
The board approved a 12-point plan to reduce expenses, recommended by Supt. Paul Mercier in an attempt to head off a possible cash shortfall due to the county's bankruptcy.
The district had $5.5 million on deposit with the county when it declared bankruptcy on Dec. 6. Most of that represents so-called Tax Revenue Anticipation Notes (TRANS), money the district borrowed to tide it over until tax revenue arrived in the spring.
To compound the situation, $2 million in tax revenue received shortly after the county's assets were frozen was used to make the first payment on the borrowed money.
"Now, the district not only can't get at its money (on deposit), but must use the funds we are getting to pay back the TRANS," Assistant Supt. Richard Turrentine said.
Both Turrentine and Mercier said the steps approved Monday are designed to minimize nonessential expenditures.
"These steps are the easiest to implement, but they send the message that it's not business as usual," Mercier said. "Every dollar we save today is a dollar (we may need) for payroll in May or June."
Mercier said the cuts came from suggestions made by district employees.
The steps approved by the board were chosen because they will have little impact on students, staff or parents, Mercier said. But if they do not produce adequate savings or if the district's financial situation worsens, the board will have to consider other measures.
"Many subsequent items would affect personnel, compensation students programs (and) services," Mercier noted in his report.