The Levelland ISD Board of Trustees met last night in a special meeting to approve the 2014-2015 budget and tax rate.
Prior to the meeting they heard from a concerned citizen as part of the public forum portion of the meeting.
Jerry McManus spoke to the school board during the public forum. He said he had spoken to teachers and students both–he spoke concerning an over use of school buses–stating that some of the sports could put more than one team on a bus. He also stated that a full size bus is being used for 10-12 cheerleaders, there is certainly something more feasible in our vehicle fleet that could be used. He said he realizes it is not popular to cut costs, he recommended using the band at home football games only not sending the band on out-of-town games. He also suggested doing away with the resource officers since teachers are armed and because the bond issue is including extra money for enhanced security measures. He says that could be a way to save money. He also recommended shutting down the Carver Learning Center and donate the building to the city or county. He also questioned why students are bussed when they live inside the city limits.
The board also held a public hearing on the 2014-2015 budget. Chief Financial Officer Nick Williams gave details on the massive cuts which had been looked at by the school administration. They have cut $624,365 from the budget. It was also shown that if they took the 2% pay raise for employees and the contingency incentive stipend out of the budget then the budget would be $643,419 deficit budget rather than the $1.7 million which was the proposed budget the board had looked at in their last meeting.
The board also looked at the proposed tax rate of $1.2467 per $100 property value.
Following the public hearing, the trustees adopted a budget. Board President F E Shaheen said he has “never been in favor of contingency’s in budgets and glad to see the budget tightened up and take all the extras out of budget” He also asked that the Chief Financial Officer get all information to board members more than 30 minutes in advance of a meeting. The trustees were told by the Chief Financial Officer that the 2013-2014 budget will likely come in with $73,000 deficit which the budget was figured with a $1.5 million dollar deficit in last years budget. Superintendent Kelly Baggett said “there are tough decisions to be made in the future regardless what budget is accepted tonight. A motion was made by Rusty Gibson to approve budget without pay raises and without the incentive stipend. That motion ended in a tie vote with Trustees Gibson, Glen Smith and Paul Ochoa in favor and Missy Himango, DeEtte Edens and FE Shaheen voting against it. Tania Moody was unable to attend. Rusty said that his true feeling says that with a very tight budget he hates to think of having to go into fund balance by $793,000. It was noted that the fund balance the school has now is $8 Million and Texas Education Agency recommends keeping 2 months of operating funds which is likely $4 Million. Missy Himango then made a motion to approve the budget with the stipend and DeEtte Edens seconded the motion, Paul Ochoa and FE Shaheen joined them in voting in favor of with Rusty Gibson and Glen Smith Against. That motion passed.
The board then approved miscellaneous amendments to current budget.
The board also approved $38,250 for repairs to the roof of the Maintenance Facility Warehouse. It was pointed out that insurance is covering the entire cost after the hail storm in June. Tecta America will do the work, they are out of Lubbock and is currently in the district doing work on bond projects including the new Lobo Stadium.
The board also approved the new student code of conduct which included very minor changes as recommended by Texas Association of School Boards.
The board also approved the teacher appraisal calendar for the district. It was pointed out that the teacher appraisal system is changing across the state under the order of the Education Commissioner for the State of Texas.
The board also approved miscellaneous personnel matters.