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SCHOOL TRUSTEES HOLD 2015-16 BUDGET WORKSHOP

July 21, 2015
 
The Granbury ISD Board of Trustees held a workshop to review proposals for the 2015-16 budget on July 20, 2015.
 
Dobie Williams, assistant superintendent for finance and operations, made a presentation to board members regarding anticipated revenue and expenditures for the upcoming school year.
 
The proposed general operating budget is $59.6 million. This represents a decrease of $262,000 million primarily due to a lower amount needed for “recapture,” as GISD will send approximately $4.6 million in local property tax dollars to the state for distribution to other school districts. This is required because the district is classified as a Chapter 41 property wealthy district under state law. The recapture amount represents a decrease from the 2014 amount of $6.1 million.
 
The overall tax rate is currently $1.265, with the maintenance and operating tax rate at $1.04 and the tax rate for debt service at $0.225. The rate applies to $100 of taxable property valuation.
 
Preliminary data reported by appraisal districts as well as conversations with chief appraisers from Johnson, Hood, Parker, and Somervell counties indicate that final taxable property values should total about 1% more than 2014. Certified values should be provided by the appraisal districts later in July.
 
Student attendance growth for the 2014-15 school year was 2.4%. However, for budget purposes, Williams stated that use of zero student growth for 2015-16 is conservative but reflective of historic and planned growth.
 
Superintendent Dr. James Largent included a recommendation for a $1,500 increase for teachers and other campus instructional personnel and a 3% midpoint increase for other employees.
 
Salaries and benefits for district employees comprise approximately 79.8% of the proposed budget – with personnel costs staying relatively constant over the 2014-15 budget. The budget plan retains the current district contribution towards employee medical insurance: $350 monthly for full-time employees and $254 monthly for part-time employees. Compensation studies show that the medical benefit provides GISD employees with an additional $1,500 a year above other area school districts.
 
Likewise, utility and other contracted service costs represent a smaller percentage of the budget. The decrease is a result of the contracting of custodial service operations to GCA Services Group as well as recent HVAC and lighting improvements from an energy conservation project that are helping with on-going utility expenditures.
 
District reserves were $15.2 million at the beginning of the fiscal year. GISD, though, will still maintain a fund balance of 23% of the 2015-16 operating budget, which is well within the three-month minimum recommended by the Texas Education Agency. Williams projected that the reserve balance in August 2015 would total approximately $15.4 million.
 
“I'm very pleased with the board and especially the administration of GISD for their preparation in this year's budget workshop,” commented school board president Mark Jackson. “The numbers will show fiscal responsibility with the focus remaining on the kids and staff of the district. Amazingly, we will be able to provide much deserved raises while holding the line on expenses and contributing to fund balance all at the same time.”
 
Information about the proposed budget and tax rate is available on the GISD website at www.granburyisd.org/budget.
 
During its regular monthly meeting following the workshop, school board members adopted compensation plans, which included salary/hiring schedules, stipend and extra duty pay schedules, and a leave buyback program for retiring employees.
 
Board members approved goals for the superintendent’s evaluation over the next year. The board also approved a 5% increase in Largent’s base salary from $185,000 to $194,250.
 
“Once again Dr. Largent has shown us his great skill as a superintendent of a growing district. His management and implementation of our 2013 $85 million bond program is going extremely well. Academic recognition and measures of the district continue to grow positively,” Jackson said. “Last month, we extended his contract as a show of our desire to keep such a talent. Now we delivered on the other half of the commitment by granting him a well-earned raise. With such a great leader at our foundation, we now look to the coming years as a time to really take advantage and elevate Granbury ISD to even higher levels.”
 
Also regarding personnel, trustees provided full-time bus drivers and bus attendants the same local sick leave available to other district employees; during the first year, two of the five days will be deposited in the district catastrophic sick leave bank. Board members approved a calendar for teacher evaluations under the Professional Development and Appraisal System (PDAS) along with a list of appraisers. The board also approved the appointment of new teachers and employees and received notification of resignations and retirements.
 
Board members approved the purchase of attendance credits with TEA for the 2015-16 school year. This is a result of GISD being a Chapter 41 property wealthy district.
 
Trustees approved clean-up language in district policy regarding student drug testing. The changes bring the policy up to date with current practice.
 
Reports made to the board included:
 
  • Scott Barnes, construction manager for the Buford-Thompson Company overseeing the bond construction, updated the board on high school transformation project. Work continues on the ninth grade addition, fine arts renovation and addition, cafeteria, learning commons (library), campus office, special education classrooms, locker rooms in gymnasiums and field house, and parking areas. Many areas will be complete for the start of school in August, but several areas will continue through August 2016.
  • An overview of the support services department and child nutrition program was made by director Linda Williams. She reported that the Healthy Kids summer lunch program serving over 25,000 meals to children in designated sites throughout the community. She indicated that the department would be continuing staff development to be compliant in all areas, complying with USDA professional standards and Smart Snacks program. Williams indicated that GCA Services Group is doing well in providing custodial services for the district.
  • Dobie Williams presented financial statements as of May 2015, cash flow and investment report for May 2015, and bond expenditure recap as of June 2015.
  • The assistant superintendent reported success on a refinancing of existing bonds approved by voters in 1999 for the construction of the two middle schools and other capital improvement projects. The board approved the refinancing in April after the district’s financial advisor recommended the action. A slight downturn in the market prior to the bonds becoming eligible for sale in May resulted in actual savings of approximately $6.9 million. The district previously refinanced the bonds in 2005, which resulted in savings of $2.5 million over the last ten years at the interest rate of 4.98%.
Board members approved minutes from the last regular meeting and a special meeting, budget amendments, and several bids and purchases: vehicle fuel; instructional supplies and equipment for career and technical education programs; supplies and materials for maintenance, repair, and operations. The board also approved recycling old instructional materials.
 
Also approved were renewal of property, crime, general liability, educators’ legal liability, and automobile insurance with the Texas Schools Property Casualty Cooperative and continued participation with the Texas Association of School Boards’ Risk Management Fund unemployment compensation program. At a future meeting, board members will consider a change in the district’s investment policy and participation in a managed asset portfolio program with Total Compensation Group Investment Advisory Services.
 
The board changed the January 2016 meeting date to Tuesday, January 19.
 
Final action on the budget and tax rate is scheduled for the next regular meeting on Monday, August 24. Board meetings are held in the GISD Board Room located next to the Administration Building at 600 W. Pearl Street.
 

 
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