RISD will ‘shrink’ in land transfer

‘Beneficial’ pact with Lexington
Reporter Editor

Just over seven square miles of land in the Rockdale ISD is being “detached” and picked up by the Lexington ISD in a switch administrators say is beneficial to both districts.

The 5-year land transfer was approved Monday by Rockdale ISD trustees— and in a separate meeting by Lexington board members— in a move designed to bring both districts over $320,000 in additional funds.

Also during Monday’s Rockdale ISD meeting in the Central Administration Building, trustees were told the district has plans to spend up to $538,000 in capital improvements, reflecting the improving financial situation of the RISD after the Luminant Milam Appraisal District settlement.

DETACHMENT—At the heart of the RISD-LISD land switch is a long-standing state legislature rule in which funding formulas change, beneficially, for districts over 300 square miles in area.

“Both Rockdale and Lexington ISDs are under 300 square miles, but they are a lot closer then we are,” Supt. Dr. Denise Monzingo said. (She has received her doctorate from Texas A&M during the past month.)

The districts determined by transferring approximately seven square miles from Rockdale to Lexington the Lexington ISD would go over the 300-square mile line and be eligible for such designation by the state.

What’s in it for Rockdale? Plenty.

Dr. Monzingo said under the agreement the Lexington ISD will give Rockdale ISD half the total of increased funding from the property and half the local tax base collected from the property.

“The change will be a financial gain for both districts, meeting over $320,000 each in additional funds,” she said.

Dr. Monzingo told the board the seven square miles is all in property still owned by Alcoa at the former Rockdale Operations.

She said Alcoa cooperated with the proposal and paid for the land to be surveyed.

Such land transfers between districts are governed by a couple of rules, one involving any children living in the transferred land and the other specifying the property not exceed one-tenth of the total taxable value of all property.

The seven acres, being wholly on Alcoa land, meets those guidelines.

(Alcoa’s property remains up for sale.)

IMPROVEMENTS— Luminant has paid its settlement money to the Rockdale ISD, along with penalty and interest, and Dr. Monzingo said the district is now ready to “catch up” with capital improvements which had been put on hold during the long period of financial uncertainty.

Presentations of planned improvements were made in four areas, technology, athletics, maintenance and transportation.

Dr. Monzingo said estimate is $538,000, including two buses which have already been ordered.

Many of the improvements are in technology where Technology Director Ken Swiech is attempting to get back on a five-year replacement plan which was slowed during the Luminant situation.

Swiech said $97,326 is being earmarked to replace 100 computers for RISD staff, $45,000 for new student Chromebooks and $32,290 for projectors.

Swiech said his goal is a five-year replacement schedule for computers, noting that many used by teachers are up to eight years old, ancient in the fast-changing world of technology.

Dr. Monzingo praised Swiech for being able to upgrade computers through only an $8,000 purchase from the Texas Prison System. “Those are 3-4 years old, but that’s a lot better than what they were using,” he said.

Maintenance expenditures include a tentative bell intercom system which would network all campus bells and intercoms allowing simultaneous warnings and messages in weather events and lockdowns.

Athletics expenditures include repairing damage from the Feb. 20 storm and new lights for the junior high gym.

Transportation upgrades include new gas and diesel pumps, tire balancing machine and tools.

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