J'Ville ISD working with larger budget

Published on Saturday, 24 August 2013 22:57 - Written by By Kelly Gooch kgooch@tylerpaper.com

Jacksonville ISD board members on Monday could give the go-ahead to call a bond election and adopt the district’s budget and tax rate.

A public hearing on the proposed budget and tax rate is scheduled to take place at 6:30 p.m., followed by a regular meeting in the board room, 800 College Ave.

Jacksonville ISD is proposing the same tax rate of $1.32 per $100 valuation, with $1.04 for maintenance and operations and 28 cents for debt service.

Lindy Finley, assistant superintendent of finance and operations, said while there is no proposed increase in the tax rate, the district does have a larger budget compared to last year, primarily because of state revenue. Total revenue for maintenance and operations is projected to be $35,515,127 compared to $34,721,619 last year.

Ms. Finley said teachers are slated to get a $1,000 raise in addition to their step increase. She said auxiliary and nonexempt staff, such as classroom aids and secretarial staff, will receive a 4 percent raise, and all other professional employees will receive a 3 percent raise.

“Our priority when receiving additional (state) funds … is to adjust the teacher pay scale. We’re not where we want to be with it, but we’re moving in the right direction,” she said.

This year, Ms. Finley said the district also will once again have full-day pre-K rather than half-day.

Overall, she said the budget is “pretty lean” and does not include a lot of capital outlay.

Trustees on Monday also will consider the calling of a $22.785 million bond election for Nov. 5.

The bond money would be for a new West Side Elementary School as well as an additional eight classrooms, a new band hall, and converting the current band hall into classroom/storage space at Nichols Intermediate School, according to the meeting agenda packet.

Superintendent Dr. Joe Wardell has said a new West Side would be built on land off College Avenue — land the district purchased as part of the Lon Morris College auction. The auction took place earlier this year after the institution went bankrupt.

Wardell has said the current West Side facility is older and has security issues, along with limited space, so the district felt it should look for other opportunities.

“We had already looked at trying to purchase that land from Lon Morris to potentially build that (West Side campus) and then all of a sudden it became available,” he said earlier this month.

The district’s goal, he said, is to use the current East Side Elementary School design, which includes a gymnasium and an estimated 36 classrooms.

As far as Nichols Intermediate, the school already has a band hall, but has outgrown it, Wardell has said.

He said Friday if the bond election was called and the issue passed, it would mean an 8.5-cent increase to the tax rate.

Jacksonville ISD’s last bond package — nearly $50 million — was approved by voters in November 2010.

The bond included new Joe Wright and East Side elementary schools as well as a new cafeteria, additional classrooms and an expanded library for Fred Douglass Elementary School, and a new cafeteria and academic wing at Jacksonville High School.