School funding? Hays waits on state

By Paige Lambert

As the school year winds down, budget talks for Hays CISD are winding up. District officials are already discussing improvements, expansion and budgets for next year.

At the April 20 school board meeting, trustees discussed amendments to the proposed 2015-2016 budget.

Projected revenue increased to $5.2 million, due to tax collection records, according to Chief Financial Officer Annette Folmar. She said the last reports show the levy increases throughout the year, which helped increase the projected numbers.

Superintendent Michael McKie said some in the legislature are optimistic about public education funding, while others believe schools won’t receive additional funds. He wants to be ready for either scenario.

“As it stands, we need to be prepared on all accounts. It’s better to be prepared, realistically,” McKie said. “In these proposals we’ve really made every effort to address salaries.”

With a possible $1 million in projected state funding, officials couldn’t move past one percent raises because of the projected deficit, McKie said. If the district hits the $4 million mark in projected state funding, however, the increase could reach three percent, he said.

“That’s including health care,” McKie said. “So that was our primary focus, outside of going back and looking at what things were deferred and how do we prioritize everything that was previously discussed.”

The current law, with no increases from the state, created a budget deficit of $787,000, Folmar said. 

She said they looked into what areas could be deferred while keeping the commitment to teachers, nurses, librarians and counselors.

“Everything is needed, but it didn’t get to the front unless we thought the district really needed these things,” Folmar said. “We figured out how we can get this down a little at a time and make this manageable.”

Folmar said if state funding reached $2 million, the district could add in some deferred items with a $245,000 deficit. If funding reaches $4 million, it could add almost all deferred items at a breakeven budget, she said.

“We don’t have any information yet about any potential scenarios (from the state) for the school district yet,” Folmar said. “These scenarios help us have a better idea about what’s possible.”

Trustees discussed adding 48 additional teaching positions district-wide. The previous count was 52.

“After counting all the numbers and triple checking, I feel comfortable we can maintain the same staffing ratio with 48,” Folmar said. “So we saved four teachers there.”

The proposed budget also looked at instructional coaches and intervention staff at the elementary and middle schools.

“The curriculum folks have gone back and talked to a lot of people and tried to figure out how we can meet the needs of the elementary school,” Folmar said. “Especially with the transition period between the interim time to develop the coaching model and serve the students who need intervention right away.”

The redesigned full-time equivalent (FTE) resources would set 13 instructional coaches and 13 intervention positions for elementary.

Proposed procurements, such as college board and the food service contract, were also reviewed. The board is also looking into creating an in-house after school program, generating a location committee for high school number three and deeding right of ways to the city of Kyle.

Folmar said the district typically receives more information from the state in mid-May. Trustee Willie Tenorio pointed out the information would then likely be available before the May 26 workshop 

The board of trustees will vote on the items during the April 27 meeting.

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