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February 29, 2024

Dear Decatur ISD,

The purpose of this letter is to give an update on the district’s financial situation and ensure all stakeholders are getting the same message.

At the February 26th, 2024 board meeting, it was explained that at the current expenditure rate we will not be able to make payroll in December of 2025 without major cuts or increased state funding.  Realize that this is only one year and nine months away.  It appears that there is much misunderstanding regarding the severity of our situation.

Approximately 80% of the district budget is allocated in salaries and benefits.  The other 20% is comprised of every other cost the district incurs including instructional materials, utilities etc.

Administrators received information in initial 2024-2025 staffing conversations which used a formula for efficient staffing. This formula does indicate the need for reduction in staffing. The consistent message to administrators is that it may not be feasible to reach the exact staffing projections; however, we must be as efficient as possible.  I continually emphasize that campus and district administration must all work together through this process.  The goal is to reduce staff through attrition, but this may or may not be possible in every instance.

Over the past two years we have cut over $300k in central office positions.  Next year, 2024-2025, we will eliminate more administrative salaries.  We are also evaluating every district program for effectiveness and efficiency and decisions will be made based on those evaluations.  Our current district budget issues are a direct result from a lack of state funding.  Governor Abbott has chosen to hold a $33 billion surplus this year rather than use the dollars to fund teacher raises and public schools.  The governor is attaching public school funding to passing vouchers.

The Decatur ISD school board has been made aware of the budget situation continuously with each budget update.  Projections for Fiscal Year 24-25 and beyond were presented to the board starting in July, 2023.  Potential cuts were presented in November, 2023 and have been discussed at each board meeting since with a variety of information given.

My message to everyone is that we have to put pressure on the state legislature to fund public education, or we could not be able to make payroll within two years.  There is no sugar-coating this situation. Some surrounding districts are cutting all probationary teachers.  This problem is not isolated to Decatur ISD.

The last time Texas schools faced a similar situation was in 2011.  At that time Decatur ISD had to undergo a RIF (Reduction in Force) and cut vast numbers of employees.   We are not currently suggesting a RIF.

I am continually fighting for funding from the legislature and looking for ways to avoid cutting from the classrooms; unfortunately, we must also ensure we are as efficient as we can be inside the classrooms .  It is disheartening that we are all going through this situation.  I will continue to work with administrators to meet the needs of the district while ensuring lines of communication remain open and transparent.


M. Chad Jones, Ed.D

Superintendent, Decatur ISD