A balanced budget that includes positive fund balances, teacher and staff pay increases and no increase to the district tax rate were critical elements of the proposed 2018-19 budget for Red Oak ISD.
During a June 21 a special meeting, the board approved the budget previously presented by ROISD Chief Financial Officer Vickie Benbow at the May session of the Red Oak Board of Trustees.
Based on the same tax rate of $1.54 per $100 valuation as last year, Benbow laid out the district financial plan for the upcoming fiscal year.
“Compared to last year we will see a 3.5 percent increase in maintenance and operations and a .26 percent decrease in debt services for a total expenditure increase of 3.24 percent,” Benbow explained.
Benbow addressed significant factors the district faces such as demographic changes with more enrollment of economically disadvantaged students and reduced financial aid from the state due to increasing property taxes. Presently, the RPISD receives 56.44 percent of its revenues from state funds and 38.36 percent from local sources.
Other notable dynamics were increased student needs, weighted daily attendance average with funding only for students present and long-term debt management.
“This is a balanced budget that addressed the implementation of the 4 Talons of the graduate profile, our needs in the classroom, as well as increasing our teacher salaries to stay competitive," Red Oak ISD Superintendent Dr. Michael Goddard stressed. "We were able to save enough in our 2017-18 budget to address all of our summer projects and add $900,000 to our fund balance. I am proud of our campus and district leaders for their work in being fiscally responsible throughout the school year to put the district in this position.”
Budgeted for the upcoming school year are pay scale increases across ROISD.
Teachers will advance to the next teacher pay scale with an additional $1,000. Teachers with more than 30 years of experience and who are no longer on the Teacher Pay Scale will receive their annual longevity stipend plus an additional $1,000
Also, exempt employees will receive two percent of mid-point of the TASB recommended pay scale and non-exempt employees will receive a three percent of mid-point of the TASB recommended pay scale.
“With new industries coming in, we have to be more competitive with our salary structure,” Goddard emphasized.
GENERAL OPERATING FUND
Through a power point presentation, Denbow shared that instruction accounts for 49 percent of the operations expenses with the remainder divided among several other categories. Salaries and benefits will be 81 percent of the operating expenses.
The total expenses are planned to be $55,316,464 against revenues of $55,317,256 for the upcoming school year.
Curriculum and instruction will focus on the second year of the Lead4ward program, Solution Tree and the Foundational Skills Program. On the technology dynamic, the SANS Server Farm will be invested in along with a mobile app and website compliance. Within fine arts, investments in the band instruments, theatre maintenance and art supplies will be significant. New uniforms, equipment, and a charter bus will be purchased for athletics. Meanwhile, districtwide, there will be appraisal district fees, Texas Association of School Board policy updates and legal fees.
“The development of the 2018-19 budget revolved around the ideals of the four talons of the Hawk. Therefore, budget managers evaluated short-term programs for long-term impact,” Benbow explained. “Programs no longer supporting identified priorities will be reduced or eliminated to allow the district to implement a balanced and sustainable budget aligned with the mission of the district.”
Student nutrition fund is set at $2,746,050, while the debt services fund is set at $8,446,607 for the 2018-19 school year.
The budget priorities were to commit to the whole child, provided social, emotional, physical and academic support, to prepare students for their futures in college, career field, or military. Another focus is on the recruitment, retention and support of highly qualified staff and provides a safe, secure and well-maintained learning environment.
In other business, the board heard an update and status of several summer project form Brad Stanford. All of the projects are in progress or completed except for some painting at the high school that has been delayed due to summer school.
TASB Human Resources Director Matthew Levitt presented his finding from a study of the pay structure for Red Oak ISD.
When he compared Red Oak to other neighboring districts, results reflected that Red Oak was below the median pay for new beginning teachers through long-term, experienced teachers. These results were based on data collected from a market study.
Levitt made six recommendations to bring the district close to the median point for teacher salaries. His first proposal was to implement a new pay structure based on market and internal equality. Second, he suggested a realignment of pay grades based on the placement of position. He also recommended a restructuring of stipends by removing some stipends and incorporating them as part of the pay scale.
“We want to present a plan, move forward, and make sound decisions,” Goddard reconciled after Levitt’s presentation.
Mike Bahr previewed the new website for the district, which illustrated several features to improve communication.
“We have put a lot of time and thought into this website,” Bahr explained.
The new site will also include a mobile app.
“We are really excited about this new site. Having the mobile apps is a very exciting,” Goddard expressed.
Additional reporting by Ashley Ford | firstname.lastname@example.org