PNG report suggests big cuts in staffing; board surprised at report

Published 3:12 pm Thursday, May 18, 2017

A staffing review detailing cost saving options for Port Neches-Groves Independent School District left some with raised eyebrows and questions.

Karen Dooley with Texas Association of School Boards presented the staffing review recently that showed a possible cost savings of about $2 million but it comes with some cutting of jobs through attrition.

Board president Darren McCutcheon said he felt that the district was already at bare bones.

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“Some of the options she was giving us seemed very drastic to me and she painted the picture that we’re overstaffed and I’ve never felt that way,” McCutcheon said.

The TASB report was for discussion only and no vote was taken. Dooley did explain that some of the options might not be actions the community would support and that they were only options.

Options included:

Administrative/professional staff

  • Absorb by attrition, one assistant principal at the high school for a savings of $75,000
  • Add one elementary curriculum coordinator for a cost of $73,000
  • Absorb, by attrition, five librarians for savings of $300,000
  • Absorb by attrition six registered nurses for a savings of $276,000
  • Addition of six licensed vocational nurses for a cost of $174,000
  • Addition of three tech specialists for a cost of $151,812


Clerical staff

  • Addition of two non-campus clerical positions for a cost of $64,000


Instructional support staff

  • Addition of nine library aides for a cost of $189,000
  • Absorb, by attrition, six computer lab aides for a savings of $123,000



  • Absorb, by attrition, up to 10 elementary teachers for a savings of $506,040
  • Absorb, by attrition, up to 14 middle school teachers for a savings of $708,456
  • Absorb, by attrition, up to three high school teachers for a savings of $151,812


Special education

  • Absorb, by attrition, up to 11 special education teachers for a savings of $556,644
  • Absorb, by attrition, one speech language pathologist for a savings of $56,963



  • Addition of two maintenance workers for a cost of $64,480
  • Absorb, by attrition, two mechanics for a savings of $84,650
  • Total savings, $2.04M


McCutcheon said the district’s student population was stagnant for some years but during the last few years the student population has grown. He said he does appreciate the work TASB has done on the report but still wonders what the impact on the district would be if the options were adopted.

The TASB report included a look at benchmark numbers that included student demographics, academic performance and funding levels. But neither McCutcheon or fellow trustee Rusty Brittain agreed that the comparison districts, some of which included Barbers Hill ISD, which has relatively new campuses, Brenham ISD, Nederland ISD and Vidor ISD, were actually comparable.

“We talk about wanting what’s best for our district, our administration, our teachers. I think we benchmark across the state in education,” McCutcheon said. “That ‘tradition of excellence’ that’s written above our logo, that’s not talking about football or baseball, it’s talking about education.”

Brittain said although the comparison districts may seem similar in numbers and certain criteria, there are a lot of differences.

“If you look, some have newer facilities,” Brittain said. “We have had facilities studies done before and the companies that perform the studies are amazed at the condition of our facilities and the age they are. Our maintenance and custodians have kept these up very well over the past years.”

Another thing, Brittain said, is that some of the comparison districts have different school configurations.

PNGISD currently has an early learning center, two K-3 schools in Groves and in Port Neches, a 4-5 grade school in both cities, a 6-8 grades school in each city and the high school. Some of the comparison districts have prekindergarten through fifth grade or kindergarten through fifth grade.

Brittain said the options reflect what could be considered a long range plan if the district had newer buildings but he doesn’t feel like there is an overabundance of educators.

“I think the district does a great job and when we do have personnel recommendations come to us, we look at those closely, we look at the importance of them,” Brittain said. “I can tell you I don’t know of a position we have that we absolutely didn’t need.”

Enrollment comparisons with districts such as Barbers Hill are misleading, he said.

“The schools are drastically different and that kind of raises a flag to say, to look at these areas and see if there is something there. But sitting through the presentation and looking at these numbers, me and fellow board members were like ‘are you sure we’re talking about the same district?’”

Leaders at PNGISD are currently mulling the idea of a bond to build four new elementary schools — two each in Groves and Port Neches thus eliminating two schools and changing the grade configuration.

Calling a bond election hinges on Total refinery’s planned expansion project and its value. According to projections, the value of the Total project should be at $179 million by Jan. 1, 2018. If this is the case and the value is at that specific point in the schedule, the board could choose to call for a May bond issue in February 2018.

Besides bond talks there’s the recent news that PNGISD’s superintendent, Rodney Cavness, has been named long finalist for the top position at Texas City ISD.