|Trinity Standard - Local News
Stories Added - August 2009
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TISD sets hearing on $9.2 m. budget
Trinity Standard - August 2009
TRINITY – A proposed $9.2 million general fund budget that includes added benefits for teachers and staff as well as a slight cut in the local tax rate will be the topic of a public hearing set for 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 31.
The hearing will be held in the school board’s meeting room in the Central Administration Office on Jefferson Street.
The board formally scheduled the public hearing during their regular monthly meeting on Monday night. That meeting immediately followed their final workshop on the 2009-10 budget, which by law must be put into place by Tuesday, Sept. 1.
Under the proposed budget, the local property tax rate would go from its 2008-09 level of $1.148 per $100 in assessed taxable value down to $1.144 – a decrease of four-tenths of one cent.
According to the Trinity County Tax Appraisal District, the new rate will mean a taxpayer with $35,000 in taxable values would pay about 80 cents less in school taxes during the coming year.
During Monday’s meeting Kevin Parrish, business manager for the Trinity Independent School District (TISD), said the general fund budget being proposed is just under the $9.2 million mark and is up by only about $40,000 from the 2008-09 budget of about $9.15 million.
The general fund covers most school activities that are supported by local tax dollars. Also covered by local tax money is the Interest and Sinking (I&S) or debt service fund, which is used to pay off the district’s bond debt.
Parrish said the I&S budget for the coming year is $398,000 – up by only $2,000 from the 2008-09 budget.
In addition to the general and I&S funds, the school district also has a cafeteria fund and a federal grant fund. Money for these activities comes directly from state and federal sources.
During the meeting, TISD Superintendent Dr. Bobby Rice said the state has increased teacher salaries for the coming year by a minimum of $800 up to a maximum of $3,370. The amount of the increase will depend on the individual teacher’s years of experience as well as type of university degree they possess.
The board also in previous meetings has approved increased supplements to be paid to teachers who serve as academic coaches for University Interscholastic League (UIL) academic meets and other related activities.
On Monday night, they also approved increased leave time for teachers and additional holiday time for other staff members.
In addition to leave time granted to teachers by the state, the district in the past has allowed them two days of “local” leave. Under the change approved Monday, the local leave will now be three days per year.
In the past these local leave days could not be carried over from one year to the next, but under the new policy, teachers will be allowed to accumulate up to 12 local leave days.
Also under the new leave policy, teaches have the option of donating up to five of their days into a pool that can be used by other teachers who face a catastrophic illness.
This so-call “sick pool” has been in place in the past, but under the old policy teachers had the option of donating only two days.
Under the new holiday policy approved Monday night, members of the custodial/maintenance staff were given five additional paid holidays.
In the past, they only received paid days for Christmas, Day New Years Day and Independence Day. Under the new holiday policy, they will be paid for Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Good Friday and Memorial Day.
“I’m very proud of our (school) board,” Rice said following Monday’s meeting. “At a time when a lot of school districts are either cutting the budget or cutting staff, we have been able to offer additional incentives that will help us keep our good teachers here in Trinity.”
First day enrollment
During the meeting, Rice also presented the enrollment figures for Monday, which was the first day of the new school year.
This year Lansberry Elementary School (grades pre-k through 4) began with 531 students, Trinity Intermediate School (grades 5-6) started with 163, Trinity Middle School (grades 7-8) opened with 166 and Trinity High School (grades 9-12) had 280 for a grand total of 1,140 students.
“We ended this past school year with 1,153 students – or 13 less than what we had today,” Rice said, adding that the district’s enrollment is expected to increase daily during the first week and another big gain is expected right after the Sept. 7 Labor Day holiday.
Rice indicated that he expects the post-Labor Day enrollment figures will be well ahead of the 1,153-ending total from last year.
Last year on the first day of school, there were 500 elementary students, 174 intermediate students and a combined total of 440 in middle and high school for a total of 1,114.
Energy savings bonuses
During his report to the board, Rice also announced the results of an energy savings program that was launched last year.
Under the program, each school campus was asked to work on reducing electrical costs over the year. A total of 20 percent of the savings would then be awarded to each campus to be spent on special programs and activities through the principal’s activity account.
Rice said Lansberry Elementary’s 20 percent share over the past year totaled $972, while the middle and high school campuses came in at $1,887.
Rice noted that because the middle and high school use the same electrical meters, it was impossible to know which campus had the greatest savings, but indicated the 20 percent bonus would be divided between the two.
“Keep in mind these figures represent only 20 percent of what we actually saved over the previous year,” Rice said. “This program has worked out very well and we’ve seen a substantial reduction in energy costs district-wide.”
Because the intermediate school opened last year, Rice said there was not way to accurately compare energy costs to a prior year, but said he felt that campus deserved a bonus of at least $500.
He noted that during the 2008-09 school year, the intermediate school spent only $1,500 more than what it cost the district to heat and cool the facility when it stood mostly empty in 2007-08.
Intermediate Principal Vanessa Franklin noted that in addition to normal school operation, her campus also hosts the after-school Boys and Girls Club of Trinity programs, which adds to the overall energy use.
During the meeting, the board also:
• Received reports from Band Director Courtney Bonfils, elementary/intermediate counselor Linda Hodges, middle school counselor Melissa Rice, high school counselor Cheryl Spearman and school nurse Rachel Kriner regarding goals and objectives for the coming year.
• Learned that a vaccination clinic hosted by the school district on Aug. 17 only attracted nine children. The clinic was held to offer shots to kindergarten and seventh graders that are now mandated by the state. Students in those grades who do not have the vaccinations by Sept. 30 will not be allowed to return to school under state law. Kriner told the board they will offer the shots to the students who need them at school during the coming weeks.
• Received a report from Technology Director Brian Furbee on plans and objectives for the coming year. He noted he is now planning to begin issuing laptop computers to sixth through eighth graders on Sept. 14. This program was funded under the Vision 20/20 grant awarded TISD last year. A Vision 20/20 Cycle 2 grant has been awarded to the district to expand the laptop program into grades 9-12. Furbee said he is now in the process of receiving proposals from laptop manufactures and expects to be able to award a purchase contract by Sept. 18. He said he plans to be able to issue the laptops to all high school students sometime in November.
• Received a report from Wayne Knotts of Masterworks regarding the school’s custodial, maintenance and transportation activities. Masterworks currently operates those serves under a contract with the school.
Knotts said they are currently studying the existing school bus routes to determine if changes could be made to both reduce the time students spend traveling to and from school as well as the cost to the district.
As part of that study, he said they are in the process of obtaining physical addresses of all students who ride the buses and will utilize a compute program to design the most efficient routes.
“Once the program designs the routes, we still have to go out and physically look to make sure that it will work,” Knotts said, noting the computer design may not take into account places for buses to turn around and other factors.
• Learned from Rice that a new attendance incentive program is being implemented for school staff members. Under the program, the staff members will be divided into three groups – middle and high school, elementary and intermediate school and bus drivers, maintenance and custodial. Each month the names of staff members who achieved perfect attendance will be put into a had and winners will be drawn for each of the three groups. They will be awarded a $75 gift card from Wal-Mart.
• Voted to offer Jeremy Sanford a contract as a middle school teacher.
• Changed the board’s regular meeting date in December from the 28th to the 14th due to the Christmas Holiday and the March meeting date from the 22nd to the 29th due to the Spring Break holiday.
• Scheduled a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 16 to receive an update on changes in state law during a Region VI Education Service Center distance learning session.
• Learned that the state has changed its requirements for graduation by lowering the required physical education credits from 1 1/2 to 1, the technical applications credit from 1 to 0 and the health credit from 1/2 to 0. In response, the board accepted Rice’s recommendation that the district make 1 1/2 P.E. credits, 1 technical application credit and 1/2 health credit a local requirement for graduation.
• Accepted a proposal from Lawn Pros of Huntsville to maintain the school’s athletic fields for the next two years.
• Renewed its contract with the Lufkin Regional Day School Program to provide education programs for deaf students.