|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - September 2010
Copyright 2010 - Polk County Publishing Company
LISD to continue talks on land purchase for bus lane
Polk County Enterprise
BY VALERIE REDDELL
LIVINGSTON — Trustees for Livingston Independent School District will continue discussions on purchase of real estate adjacent to the high school campus under construction in an executive session as part of its meeting planned for 6 p.m. Monday. The board will hear a progress report from Superintendent Dr. Darrell Myers during closed session on efforts to finalize negotiations since a called workshop held last Monday. Following the discussion the board will consider any necessary action in an open meeting which will resume after the executive session. TxDOT officials told the board Sept. 13 that it had reversed an earlier requirement that the district place a gate between the campus and U.S. 190. That change made an option that sends buses behind the First United Methodist Church program more viable. Church members had concerns that having the bus route dissect their land would make a portion of it unusable. School Finance Board members also will discuss joining efforts to urge Texas legislators to scrap the current school finance scheme in favor of a system that distributes state funds more equitable to all public school students. “Make Education a Priority” is one initiative gaining support among public school advocates. The Stephenville Independent School District points out in supporting the measure that leaves 660 district below the average target revenue of $5,341 per pupil. Only 365 districts are at or above that level since Gov. Rick Perry forced legislators to change the system in a series of back-to-back special sessions in 2006. That plan ordered districts to cut property tax rates by one-third, increased franchise taxes to businesses and added a $1 a pack tax to cigarettes, according to a fact sheet published by the Dallas Morning News. Stephenville trustees assert the state (and not the local school district) now retains the majority of revenue generated by increased taxes on rising local property values and new growth. As those values increase, the state’s share of education funding decreases. “This can be loosely construed as an unconstitutional statewide property tax,” said a letter from the Stephenville board. More than 80 percent of the budget of local school districts go toward salary and benefits for employees. Those expenses (which are also largely defined by state officials) plus the increasing costs of utilities, insurance, fuel and food that are not under local officials’ control leaves districts with very little revenue that could be described as “discretionary.” The “Make Education a Priority” initiative includes having local districts adopt resolutions of support, community awareness of the incomprehensible and unequal nature of the current system and lobbying legislators to take action during the 2011 session. Other items on Monday’s agenda including: Naming Mark Currie and Kevin Harbuck as adjunct faculty members and sanctioning 4-H as an extracurricular activity. • Nominating a candidate for as Region VI representative for TASB. • Approve investment reports for the 4th quarter and the year. • Hear information about the transportation incentive program. • High school construction report. • Tax report and analysis of delinquent taxes. • Consider an appeal of a level three disciplinary action. • Consider acceptance of resignations of profession personnel and approve hiring of professional personnel. • Consider approving positions for a bus driver and bus aide to travel to Bayes Achievement Center (a treatment center for emotionally disturbed children) daily. The meeting will be held at the administration building at 1412 South Houston St. in Livingston.