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School district’s budget takes $600K hit on wind farm appraisal

The local public school board was forced to shave off more than $600,000 from the district’s annual budget Monday after an appraisal of a Val Verde County wind farm was reduced.

The San Felipe Del Rio CISD Board of Trustees held a special called meeting to evaluate its budget for the 2018-2019 school year, after the Val Verde County Appraisal District’s appraisal review board lowered the appraisal of a wind farm in central Val Verde County.

“We understand, as board members, it’s going to be a give-and-take because of that un-forecasted decrease in the amount of funds,” Board of Trustees President Raymond Meza said. “We completely understand there needs to be some areas where we negotiate. It was unexpected but now we have to deal with it.”

The decision also reduced Val Verde County’s expected revenue by about $400,000.

The board chose to eliminate 12 open teaching positions from high-risk or “focus” elementary campuses like Garfield, North Heights and Dr. Fermin Calderon to compensate for the loss in expected revenues, said Superintendent Dr. Carlos Rios.

“The windmill fiasco adversely affects the district,” Rios said. “Where we’re having to reduce right now is on the teacher side because that’s the only place we can reduce. These are services to students.”

The student-teacher ratio at these campuses was increased from 18 to one to 22 to one, Rios said, to eliminate five open elementary teaching position district-wide.

“Four students makes a huge difference in a classroom,” Rios said.

The board also also cut seven art teaching positions throughout elementary campuses, sparing music classes, he said. Art teachers will be reassigned to other open positions, he said.

The district had anticipated the additional funding for about two years, Rios said.

“It was not expected at all,” Rios said. “We’ll see what happens in court.”

Members of the Val Verde County Appraisal District Board of Directors on Friday agreed to appeal the appraisal review board’s decision through a lawsuit to be filed in state district court.