|Trinity Standard - Local News
Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company
School finances will take a big hit
Trinity Standard -
TRINITY – Trinity school would lose from $470,000 to almost $950,000 next year depending on which budget proposal is finally approved by the Texas legislature. During Monday’s Trinity School Board meeting, Superintendent David Plymale gave local officials an update on the state budget battles now underway in Austin. He noted that the leading plan being considered by the Texas House is CSHB 2485 while on the Senate side, SB 22 appears to be the main contender. An analysis of those two bills indicates the House plan would cut the Trinity Independent School District’s state funds by $941.538 while the Senate budget proposal would reduce TISD’s funds by only $467,870. Plymale said there is one Senate proposal “floating around” which, if approved, would only reduce the state’s local contribution by $211,121 but added that plan is not expected to gain much support. Because of the statewide budget crisis, schools across Texas have been cutting staffing for the 2011-2012 school year. Last month, the Trinity School Board approved cutting 22 personnel slots ranging from administrators to bus drivers in order to cut salary expenses. In his report, Plymale said there is talk in Austin of reforming the way schools are funded, specifically the “target revenue” system now in place. Under the system, each school district is assigned a target revenue which is made up of both local and state funds. TISD’s target revenue currently is $5,091 per each unit of Weighted Average Daily Attendance (WADA). WADA does not necessary equal the actual number of students attending school because some students – such as those with special needs – are given more “weight” than others and are counted as more than “one” student. Plymale said he examined the target revenue assigned to every school district and Texas and learned that Trinity is ranked seventh from the bottom. He noted that all school districts in this area are funded by the state at higher levels ranging from the Groveton ISD, which is set at $5,213, up to the Franklin ISD, which is at $10,129. If Trinity’s target revenue was increased by $122 to the same level as the Groveton ISD, Plymale said it would mean an additional $208,000 per year in state funds. If it was increased by $5,038 to the same level as the Franklin ISD, he said it would increase state funding by almost $8.5 million. “All students deserve the same type of funding, regardless of where they live,” Plymale said. He added that schools like Franklin have very high “target revenue” figures because they have some high dollar taxable item inside their district. In Franklin’s case, it oil and gas money. He noted that under the current state funding plan, if Trinity generates additional local tax income through increased property values, the state simply lowers its contributions to offset the local gains. “There is no way this is an equitable system and it needs to be changed,” Plymale said. He noted that such a change would meet strong opposition in Austin from those who represent the schools that are benefiting from the funding imbalance. Meal prices changed During their meeting, the school board approved a plan to increase meal prices starting with the 2011-2012 school year. It was noted the increase in the student lunch prices was needed to being them into compliance with federal guidelines. Because most of the local students qualify for free or reduced lunch programs, the increase in fees will not affect them and local officials are hoping the price increase will prompt more parents to apply from the free lunch program. Under the price schedule approved by the board, the price of breakfasts at the intermediate, middle and high school campuses will increase from $1 to $1.50 next year. The price at Lansberry Elementary School will remain at $1. Student lunches at all four TISD campuses will go up by 10 cents – from $1.75 to $1.85 at the elementary and intermediate schools and from $2.25 to $2.35 at the middle and high schools. In addition, the school staff breakfast price also will increase from $1.35 to $1.75 while the staff lunch price will remain at $3. Other action During the meeting, the school board also: • Approved the creation of a Crime Stopper Club on the Trinity High School Campus. The club will be funded by the Trinity County Crime Stoppers, Inc. (TCCS) and will be overseen by a student board and faculty advisor. Like the main Crime Stoppers program, the student group also will offer rewards for anonymous tips that lead to the arrest of criminal suspect. • Renewed the school’s athletic, property and liability insurance plans. • Authorized both the Trinity High School Beta Club and the Trinity Middle School Junior Beta Club to make out-of-state trips in June to send representatives to the national conventions. • Received Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skill testing updates from the found campus principals • Voted to hire a part-time reading specialist, a part-time math coach and a part-time diagnostician. The diagnostician is the only new position.