School tax stays same but funding change looms

With Sandow 5 added to tax rolls, RISD now ‘rich’ again; may have to return funds to state
Reporter Editor

Rockdale ISD school trustees, have okayed a $1.2135 tax rate for the third straight year.

But big changes loom. Supt. Dr. Howell Wright told board members the state now considers Rockdale a “wealthy” district and RISD will probably have to reject, or send back, hundreds of thousands of state tax dollars next year.

Meeting Monday in the Central Administration Building, board members ended a year-long saga by approving an upgrade of the RHS baseball field designed to make its appearance conform to the RHS softball field, just across the parking lot.

Tax rate

Board members approved a tax rate of $1.04 for maintenance and operation and .1735 for debt service, a total of $1.2135.

Dr. Wright said changes are on the way with Rockdale ISD’s designation as a Chapter 41 (wealthy) school district.

He said next year the district could have to send back $375,000 to the state or “just let the state keep it.”

Under Chapter 41, districts are given equalization options, most of which he deemed “unacceptable.”

Those include consolidating with another district, detaching territory (Luminant) from the district or consolidating its tax base with another district.

Currently the RISD has chosen the option to “purchase average daily attendance” credits.

Chief Financial Officer Karl Kacir, whose successor was chosen later in the session (see Page 1 D) said later in the meeting state funding formulas might drop state revenue to the RISD as much as $900,000 next year.

Kacir said he anticipated values at Luminant’s Sandow 5 Power Plant would “level off” by next year.

Baseball field

Board members okayed a baseball field renovation contract with Bland Construction for $593,770, plus about $65,000 in architect and consulting fees.

The price includes a $50,000 contingency fee.

Consultant J.P. Grom said the project, which drew four bidders, came in well under the $750,000 budgeted.

Vote was 6-0 with trustee Wayne Fisher, a Bland Construction employee, abstaining.

In other business, trustees:

• Heard principals report on enrollment, which continues to be down, 16 less than in 2009-10 as of Tuesday.

• Approved several budget amendments, including some funds earmarked for additional projects including air conditioning the elementary gym.

• Held a publc hearing on the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST). Kacir said RISD earned a superior rating with 77 points out of a possible 80.

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