Wichita Falls ISD board discusses budget deficit, school security

Wichita Falls ISD is still trying to bounce back from its projected $9 million deficit.
Wichita Falls ISD is still trying to bounce back from its projected $9 million deficit.
Published: Jun. 15, 2022 at 11:37 AM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - School security and keeping kids safe is on the top of everyone’s minds nationwide, and it also played a big part in Tuesday’s Wichita Falls ISD school board meeting.

The meeting also focused on an update on the projected budget for next year that started in the red.

WFISD is still trying to bounce back from its projected $9 million deficit, and after making several cuts, financial consultant Gary Patterson said the number is projected to go down.

Patterson said the district was able to save $10 million after certain adjustments were made, such as budget cuts, but because of other factors like the construction of new schools, the district will still be in a $3 million deficit in the coming school year.

“There’s just some issues out there that continue to, my mistake, haunt you,” Patterson said. “That’s the word that comes to mind. You’ve got a lot of people on ESSER funding and that’s going to go away.”

While no action was taken, Patterson suggested that the district uses the $20 million in emergency COVID relief funds, known as ESSER, to pay for the construction of the new schools.

“You’re taking the $20 million, you got ESSER, you got ESSER coming in that gives you $20 million,” Patterson said. “You take that $20 million to pay construction. The next year, you won’t have to pay that construction, so that money comes back, ESSER goes away.”

One thing that may not be costing the district any more money is metal detectors, which were discussed at the meeting by Lahoma Vaughn, WFISD’s director of security. There’s just one last step before introducing it to all secondary schools.

“The big question is right now, how are we going to staff them if we’re going to use them? We do have a protocol already drafted, we do have a policy in place that allows for it, but the staffing is the problem,” Vaughn said.

Vaughn also brought arming teachers to the attention of the trustees as an option for further security measures to be taken. However, she has some concerns.

“The school board could opt to allow school marshals or guardians,” Vaughn said. “It’s two different programs, but that’s something that they would need to consider, what’s the pros and cons of it because it’s going to be both.”

Marshal and guardian programs usually allow teachers with concealed firearm permits to bring their weapons to campus.

“What if law enforcement shows up and they’re not in a distinct uniform and something goes bad, we think you’re the shooter, so those are the different types of scenarios that should be concerning,” Vaughn said.

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