by KIM HILSENBECK
Two bills in the 83rd Texas legislature, Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 1025, were cause for a positive budget outlook for Hays CISD, according to Deputy Superintendent Carter Scherff, who projects $2.3 million in initial revenue increases in the upcoming school year.
At the regular June meeting, Scherff told the Board of Trustees the preliminary budgeted revenues for 2013-2014 are $121,412,135.
The 2012-2013 school year budget was $118.2 million.
“We ended up having a good session in the legislature,” Scherff said during his presentation to the board. “Even better news is everything I read today and vetoes the governor used, even though they did affect a couple of the bills that affect us monetarily, did not have any impact on school districts.”
The biggest change in the projections from May to June was salary increases. Starting teachers at Hays CISD will make $40,388, up from $39,875.
“That will put us halfway to the trend line,” Scherff said, referring to the district’s goal of raising teacher compensation.
In May, Esperanza Orosco, a former Hays CISD teacher and then president of the Hays Educators Association, told the board Hays was at the bottom of the teacher salary comparison list compared to San Marcos ($41,400), Del Valle ($42,500) and Pflugerville ($41,000) and several other Central Texas school districts.
The projected salary increase for Hays CISD teachers, nurses and librarians is between 1.5-4.2%, depends on the number of years of employment. Teachers do not receive merit pay.
Scherff said the projected pay increase for all other employees is 1.5 percent.
“I’m very pleased to present this kind of a budget; last time I presented this (in May), there were no salary increases in there,” he said.
The projected enrollment figure Scherff used for estimated expenditures was 17,200. He used a projected enrollment of 17,150 to develop the estimated revenues.
He reminded the board that the district also has to pay an additional $27 a month per employee for an increase in health care insurance premiums. Hays CISD pays about $3,900 per employee per year for healthcare insurance.
The estimated tax rate for the 2013-2014 school year is $1.4613. The school board will approve the rate at its August meeting. Approval is subject to budget discussions and public hearings in August. The rate, with no change since the FY 2007-2008 budget, calls for a Maintenance and Operations (M&O) rate of $1.04, and a Bonded Indebtedness (I&S) rate of $.4213, for the total rate of $1.4613 per $100 valuation.
Changes around the district as a result of the higher revenues, according to documents presented to the board, include 31 new teacher positions, two special education teacher spots, and several additional staff positions. A new School Resource Officer, an employee of the Hays County Sheriff’s Office, will split time between Dahlstrom Middle School and the Impact Center. The district pays a portion of SRO salaries.
The district will also add a new integrated pest manager position with an annual compensation of between $50,000 and $55,000, including benefits. Scherff said Hays CISD will also realign several other positions in the maintenance group.
Board member Merideth Keller asked Scherff about hiring an additional assistant principal at Dahlstrom Middle School. He told her that school’s enrollment falls short of staffing requirements – off the top of his head he thought the threshold was 890 or 900. Dahlstrom is projected to have 840 students this coming year.
Keller pointed out that Wallace and Barton middle schools each have two assistant principals and both of their enrollment numbers were below the threshold, at 860 and 786, respectively.
Scherff said he made a mistake in the enrollment projections for those campuses during last year’s budget session. Wallace is expected to have 854 students this year.
“Dalhstrom Middle School will be very close to those numbers,” Keller said. “I’m concerned about the number of students per teacher and the equipment. I think it’s important we support that campus.”
She told Scherff there are too many children in the school’s science classes. The district average student-teacher ratio is 26:1, but at Dahlstrom, Keller said some teachers have 33 students.
“We have some challenges at that campus,” she said.
Superintendent Mike McKie, who has been on the job about a month, said the district will monitor those student-teacher ratios.
Scherff said the next thing he is watching is House Bill 14 in the special session, which, if passed, would funnel all fuel tax revenue to its originally designated intent – road infrastructure improvements and maintenance. He told trustees that the permanent school program receives about $800 million a biennium from fuel taxes.
Board member Shawn Bosar asked Scherff to conduct an evaluation of salaries at Hays CISD compared to other districts.
Scherff said he agreed that the district needs a comprehensive study of the entire compensation system. He told trustees he recommends conducting a Texas Association of School Board (TASB) salary study, which would be implemented in the 2014-2015 school year.
In response to her question about the cost of the study, Scherff told board member Holly Smith-Raymond the funds for the study would not need to be added to the budget.
“If the cost is what I expect it to be, we can probably find it within existing funds in next year’s budget. It’s not something we need to specifically add,” he said.
Formal board budget discussions will take place later this summer. The board will vote to adopt the budget at the August regular meeting, which takes place August 29 at Hays High School.
The Hays CISD Board of Trustees authorized the following expenses at its regular June meeting:
• $250,000 for potential procurement of technology equipment, including iPods, iPads, accessories and other equipment district wide, to Apple Computers. The money will come from the General Operating Grant and federal funds and is expected to be an annual expenditure.
• $201,280 for asphalt repairs DMS, HHS, KES, LHS, TG Elem to Ramming Paving Company; this is a one-year option renewal from 2012 bid award and will be done over summer. The funds come from the Capital Project Funds.
• $60,000 for graphing calculators from D&H Distributing. The funds come from the General Operating Budget and Instructional Materials Allotment.
• $111,114 to the College Board for the May 2013 AP examinations. The fee is $81 per exam, though that amount is lower for free and reduced lunch students. The funds come from the General Operating Budget. The examination fees by high school are:
Hays High, 1,099 exams, $75,477
Lehman High, 668 exams, $35,277
Live Oak Academy, 8 exams, $360