TISD budget bump $3.9M: Most funding coming from higher property values

Published on Wednesday, 20 August 2014 22:32 - Written by Emily Guevara eguevara@tylerpaper.com

Despite a state funding decrease, Tyler ISD is proposing a budget that will account for new hires, new facilities and some pay changes.

Tyler ISD is proposing a $138.7 million budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year. This is almost $3.9 million higher than last year’s budget, with the majority of the increase funded by an increase in property values.

The district is proposing to maintain its existing tax rate of $1.375 per $100 valuation. This is slightly higher than the effective rate of $1.36, which is the rate needed to generate the same amount of revenue as last year. It is more than 3 cents below the rollback rate of $1.41, which is the highest rate the district can adopt without voter approval.

This proposed rate includes a maintenance and operations rate of $1.04 per $100 valuation and a debt service rate of 33.5 cents per $100 valuation.

The average homeowner in the district would pay about $1,750.83 in property taxes, about $48 higher than the TISD property taxes for the average homeowner last year.

The average home value in the district is $142,333, almost $3,500 higher than last year. Because of a $15,000 homestead exemption, the taxable value for the property is lower.

The owner of a $100,000 home would pay $1,168.75 in TISD property taxes, the same as last year.

“Our staff has done a good job during the interim process and they have remained focused on the goal to open our schools with a sound fiscal plan for the board to consider,” newly hired Superintendent Dr. Marty Crawford said.

Despite a more than $313,000 decrease in state funding, the district will see $2.5 million increase in property taxes because of higher valuations.

The state funding decrease comes because of a decrease in student enrollment and the increase in local property values.

The district expects to see almost $1 million in increased revenue through Medicaid reimbursements for certain health-related services provided to students in special education.

The district hired a consultant to work with them on these billing matters, which is why they are expecting the increase, chief financial officer Tosha Bjork said.

The district’s food service program is profitable and will provide about $50,000 to the district for use to offset central office administrative expenses related to food service.

When it comes to payroll and benefits expenditures, the district is proposing a $2.96 million increase.

Although pay raises are off the table in this budget proposal, TISD is proposing to use $300,000 for salary adjustments.

These salary changes would affect 474 people, or about one-third of Tyler ISD’s 1,450 employees.

These pay adjustments would affect only those positions that needed a change based on a study conducted this year for the district by the Texas Association of School Boards.

Kim Tunnell, TISD’s chief leadership and performance officer, previously said that based on that study, the district wants to ensure its pay for certain positions is comparable to that of other districts around the state with similar sizes, structures and demographics.

Affected employees could fall in the following categories: first-, third- and fourth-year teachers, clerical and technical, instructional coaches and instructional technology specialists, police officers and auxiliary such as food service.

However, not every employee in these groups would be affected, only those whose pay needed an adjustment based on the market value survey.

In addition to the pay changes, the district has added several new positions, some as part of its strategic plan.

The new positions include the addition of a grant writer, the Three Lakes Middle School principal, Early College High School director, student intervention specialist, custodians for July and August 2015 for new school buildings, full-time employees for special education versus consultants and a stipend increase for certified bilingual teachers.

The district also hired administrative interns for the TARGET Academy for gifted and talented students and the St. Louis Early Childhood Center.

These employees will function in a role similar to a vice principal at these specialized campuses.

The district is budgeting for decreases in workers compensation and unemployment compensation. However, it’s budgeting for an increase in its contribution to teacher retirement.

The district is proposing to increase its instruction and instructional support budget by about $200,000.

The district set aside almost $260,000 for strategic planning implementation. The board approved a strategic plan for the district in March. So these funds will be used to implement certain steps in the plan.

Other expenses include a special course required for high school students who don’t meet the minimum threshold of college and career readiness, and a screener to identify which students are struggling to learn and need additional academic support.

Other budget changes which total almost $700,000 include: an increase in maintenance, facilities and utilities for the new district facilities that will open this fiscal year; computer system upgrades, and an increase in the payment to the Smith County Appraisal District because of an increase in the tax levy.

The school board is scheduled to have a public hearing on the budget as well as vote on the budget and tax rate during a 7 p.m. meeting today at the Dr. Jack L. Davidson Conference Center in the Jim Plyler Instructional Complex, 807 W. Glenwood Blvd.