Improvements discussed

by | Jul 23, 2015 | Latest

Staff Writer

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After spending almost $5 million in locally generated funds on school construction projects this years, Princeton Independent School District still has ample funds to continue making facility improvements in Fiscal Year 2015-‘16.

PISD Superintendent Phil Anthony reviewed budget figures with trustees at a regular school board meeting July 20.

The district is looking at total expenditures next year of $44.7 million and revenues of $43.6 million, a slight deficit. Total budget for FY 2014-‘15 was $41.9 million.

Anthony reported that $11.2 million was available in local construction funds in 2014-‘15, the district spent $4.9 million and plans are to budget $6.9 million next year. But, with additional revenue going into the fund, the superintendent reported that the construction fund should end next year with a $4.3 million balance.

Local construction funds are on top of monies raised in a bond election to build a new elementary school, which will open this fall. The elementary school project was tagged at $14.4 million.

Budget figures for 2015-‘16 are still being adjusted and will not be adopted until August, along with the property tax rate. Certified property tax values from which to set the property tax rate are due from Collin Central Appraisal District in the next few days.

Trustees did approve a proposed property tax rate of $1.62 per $100 assessed valuation, the same as last year. That rate is broken down to $1.17 for operations and 45 cents for debt service.

Anthony reported that it takes about $2.5 million per month to operate the school district.

Work on a day care facility, a benefit to teachers with young children, is almost completed and the superintendent reported that reservations already have been made for 40 children, double the number originally estimated.

Anthony reported that all trustees are current on state-mandated training.

Three board members must be elected in Nov. 3 balloting and the board officially called the election. Trustees whose 3-year terms are expiring are Bob Lovelady, Brent Collins and Kyle Strickland. PISD board members are elected at-large. All three trustees indicated they will seek new terms.

District handbooks for student conduct, a code of conduct, daycare and the gifted and talented program were presented to the board for review but only one, the Code of Conduct was required to be formally adopted, which the board did.

Changes made in the handbooks were to adopt recommendations of Texas Association of School Boards, Anthony reported. The superintendent noted that the major change is the decriminalization of truancy approved by the Texas Legislature earlier this year.

Anthony explained that truancy is no longer a criminal offense, which puts enforcement back on schools. He also noted that PISD has an attendance rate of about 96 percent, which changes little even with strict truancy enforcement.

The board discussed and agreed to expand the district’s Career and Technology Center (CATE) offerings by starting a joint criminal justice program with Collin County Sheriff’s Office.

In the new program for senior students, training would be given to earn certification as correctional center jailers, a job which pays about $34,000 per year plus benefits including county paid college tuition. Students who earn jailer certification could begin studies to become licensed peace officers.

Trustees agreed that the new program will open up an avenue to a career in law enforcement to interested students, and the district may make the training available to students from other school districts.

The board approved a five-cent increase in lunch prices across the board on recommendation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture which reviews costs under the reduced price lunch program.

Accepting the responsibility again as the district’s representative to TASB was trustee Tim Tidwell. The TASB annual meeting will be held in Austin in October.

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