I want to let you know that today, I was in Sheffield to announce the closure of the Sheffield Boot Camp. When I first came to TYC, I told you that I would have to make a number of difficult decisions regarding personnel and the proper utilization of our facilities. This is one of those decisions.
We currently have 17 youth at the Sheffield facility, which has a budgeted capacity of 80. For the past year, we have been losing our JCO staff and have been continuously adjusting the youth population to ensure ratios are being met. All of the current Sheffield youth will be moved to the appropriate facilities by the end of March.
We also have approximately 60 current employees at Sheffield. All will be offered the opportunity to make a direct transfer to the West Texas State School or any other TYC facility. This will be a tough time for them and we will do everything we can to ensure a smooth transition for these valued employees and their families. We will be working with the Texas Workforce Commission to provide assistance to those employees who choose not to remain with TYC.
On a brighter note, I want you all to know that our plans for the biennium include keeping West Texas State School and Victory Field operating. We will need the capacity these facilities offer as we begin major renovations to our open bay dorms throughout the system. I felt it important to let all staff know as soon as possible that we will retain these two facilities and that we put to rest any remaining speculation.
I appreciate that he delivered the news out in West Texas in person before notifying other TYC employees or the press, even though everyone knew it was coming. (Legislators joked at last week's hearing that Sheffield wasn't long for this world, though Nedelkoff steadfastly refused to make predictions, or "safety ratings," about particular units.) If earlier TYC conservators had kept their employees in the loop about decisions that way, I doubt seriously Grits would have become what one reporter recently called the "unofficial bulletin board" for TYC employees. This closure was handled with class by comparison to the closure of the private facility in Coke County.