by KIM HILSENBECK
Hays CISD board members approved the 2012-2013 operating budget last Thursday with no tax increase, no staffing cuts and no increase in class-size ratios. In fact, staff will be hired this year to accommodate the growth in enrollment.
This marks the district’s sixth consecutive year of not raising property taxes. The approved budget holds the current tax rate of $1.4613 per $100 valuation.
The 2012-2013 operating budget of $118.2 million is based on a projected student enrollment of 16,450, up from 15,900 students last year. According to Deputy Superintendent Carter Scherff, Hays CISD started the year with 16,304 students but expected growth in the district is anticipated.
The approved budget provides a step raise for teaching staff, including nurses and librarians, and one percent raise for all other regular staff, as well as a $1 per hour raise for bus operators. Contributions from the district to employee health care premiums will also go up.
Steve Thompson, president of the Association of Texas Public Educators and Lehman High School teacher, thanked the board last week for its work and the pay increases, but appealed to board members to consider future increases to get the salaries of Hays CISD staff up to par with the rest of the region.
“Public education is under assault,” Thompson said. “Based on our three-year plan, we’re not making much of a gain this year.”
But Thompson said his organization appreciates the board’s token effort showing it is willing to appreciate and reward staff. He also urged board members and others in attendance to do research and vote for candidates in upcoming elections who support public education.
The approved budget also includes service awards for all Hays CISD employees – essentially, longevity pay for the number of years of employment. The amounts range from $400 to $800, based on years of service. Board member Marty Kanetzky asked if future service awards could be tied to work performance or some other incentive, not just how long someone has worked for the district.
Following the 2011 legislative cuts to Texas public education funding, the district faced steep reductions in staff, yet was able to pass a budget last school year with no significant loss of staff or programs and no tax increase.
Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Lyon thanked his financial staff – Annette Folmar, executive director of finance, and Scherff – for their expertise and guidance. He also thanked the board of trustees.
“Our board also deserves tremendous credit for their long-term budget vision and their courageous decisions last year that allowed us to be in this position,” Lyon said.