School budget has tax hike

Board okays clinic on RISD campus with August start eyed

Rockdale ISD trustees have okayed a “ hopefully tentative” budget for 2013-2014 that’s based on a 4-cent tax increase.

Board members, meeting in regular session Monday in the Central Administration Building, also approved a request by Little River Healthcare to place a clinic in an RISD campus as soon as August.

In advance of the start of the 2013-14 school year, board members also made a number of personnel moves.

TAX HIKE—Marla Wallace, district chief financial officer (CFO) said the new budget is presently based on a tax increase from the current $1.2384 to $2.2751.

She said the increase, along with the $2.6-million deficit in the $14.2-million general fund budget, is based on two factors which may or may not be resolved in favor of the district and its taxpayers.

The first is uncertainty over values placed on Luminant, largest taxpayer in Milam County and in the Rockdale ISD.

That matter is currently involved in protest negotiations with the Milam Appraisal District (AD). “We have communicated with them that we need to hang onto our taxable values,”

Wallace said.

A similar situation occurred in 2012 and ended with a pleasant surprise for the district. Budget planners had anticipated a $364-million decrease in taxable values, based on preliminary AD figures, and proposed a 5-cent tax increase.

But when final values were certified in late July, the drop was “only” $165-million and the 5-cent hike turned into a 1.34-cent increase.

TEMPLATE—The second variable is uncertainty over the “template” used by districts to figure state revenue, a template Wallace said is not producing a promised revenue increase linked to mandated 2005- 06 statewide school tax cuts.

“We’re getting hardly any of that aid,” she said.

Wallace noted that when local revenue (property tax generated) goes down, there’s supposed to be a corresponding increase in state aid.

She said at least 70 other school districts find themselves in the same situation.

Wallace said, as with last year, the budget presented, and approved, Monday may not reflect the final numbers. “If the revenue does go up, we might not have a deficit,” she said.

“But I want you to know this may not get ‘fixed’,” Wallace said. “But this is what we have to work with.”

The vote to approve the budget was 6-1 in favor with trustee Michelle Lehmkuhl voting against. “All seven of us are really against it (the situation),” trustees Kent Bowermon said. “But we’ve got to have a budget.”

CLINIC—After an executive session consultation with attorneys, trustees approved a licensed agreement between the district and Little River Healthcare to provide a school-based clinic inside the Rockdale ISD.

Dr. John M. Weed III had proposed the concept at the board’s May meeting. Dr. Weed said the clinic would be in addition to the district’s school nurses and would assist them with clinical decision-making but “would not be their boss.”

Pam Kaufmann, assistant superintendent for instruction and administration, said the district will meet soon with Little River representatives to iron out final details and plans to start the clinic in August “if all arrangements can be made.”

The clinic will only serve RISD students and staff.

Dr. Weed said the idea came about after conversations with his wife, Jeanie, a retired school nurse. “ There is a tremendous amount of health care going on in a system that’s not a health care system,” he said. “It’s amazing what school nurses go through in the course of a day. They see 40 to 60 kids.”

He said the clinic can also serve as a preventive measure. “We’re seeing recent problems in children on a scale we’ve never seen before, diabetes, even children needing liver transplants, all related to obesity,” Dr. Weed said.

PERSONNEL—Tr us te e s accepted the following resignations:

Elementary—Sherilyn Johnson, librarian.

Intermediate— Meghaan Bow, fourth grade.

Junior-high—Amanda Keen, sixth grade social studies, high school softball coach.

High school— Sara Sulak, Algebra II.

Burleson-Milam Special Services Co- Op— Sandr a Brupbacher, speech-language pathologist; Torian Schauwecker, speech-language pathologist assistant.

The following were hired:

Intermediate— Jessica Green, fourth grade; Tammy Hawkins, fourth grade.

Junior-high—Kevin Stehr, assistant band director.

High school—Kaili DeGaish, social studies, JV cheer sponsor; Ronnie Jonse, social studies, head baseball coach; Diana Miralles, math.

Burleson-Milam Special Services Co-Op—Caroline Patterson, speech-language pathologist; Holly Schoppe, speech-language pathologist.

Changes—Two persons were on both lists.

Sarah Vreeland resigned as a paraprofessional and was hired as a fifth-grade teacher.

Trey Young resigned as a paraprofessional and was hired as an intermediate campus physical education teacher.

In other business, trustees:

• Okayed food service and debt service budgets for 2013-14.

• Delayed a report on access points for wireless Internet connections until new superintendent Vicki Bridges is formally hired.

• Designated the Milam County Tax Collector to calculate the district’s effective tax rate.

• Extended worker’s compensation insurance as recommended by Wallace.

• Okayed approval of an expedited waiver for accelerated instruction in grades 5 and 8, as recommended by Kaufmann.

• Applied for federal funds, as is required every year in board action.

• Amended the 2012-13 budget. “ These amendments did not require any additional expenditures, just moving money from one function to another,” Wallace said.

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