“It surprised me. According to the preliminary estimate, we’re looking at going down $30 million,” Sparks said.
Although property taxes for GWISD are projected to drop, the impact lags a year behind for the school district. In 2001 their tax base was $250 million and it went up and down over the years to $526 million in 2012 and then $670 million in 2013.
Although revenue fluctuated for the district, it was always higher than the district’s expenditures. This allowed the district to set aside about $6.5 million.
“This coming year we’re going to have to tighten our belts,” Sparks said.
Because certain funds can only go to certain projects and upgrades, the district will discuss a possible tax rate increase at its next meeting on Aug. 13 and then will approve it on Aug. 27.
Expenditures are anticipated to remain about the same next year, where one expense lowered another increased and it roughly balanced out, according to Sparks.
Sparks said 80 percent of their $10 million budget is payroll with a staff of 180 employees. This means if GWISD gave a $100 per month raise to all employees, it would cost over $200,000 annually. Their next biggest expenditure is 9 percent for supplies, 8 percent for contracted services such as utilities, 3 percent for operating costs, and a fraction of a percentage for capital outlay at $150,000.
Calculating the district’s revenue isn’t an exact science since students bring in different amounts of money depending on their grade and needs, according to Sparks.
He said 60 percent of their income is from property taxes. The next biggest, 35 percent, is from state funding, which is primarily from sales taxes, according to Sparks. State revenue also comes from lottery tickets and chapter 41 schools such as McMullen and Three Rivers school districts. The remainder of GWISD’s income is from local revenue such as the cafeteria and football game ticket sales, which totals about 3 percent, $300,000, according to Sparks.
“We’re not a rich school, but we feel comfortable,” Sparks said. “If you lined them (all the schools in the state) up, we would be about in the middle.”
Because there is a one year lag in property tax revenue impacting the school, the board approved budget amendments for some one-time expenditures. These purchases include ordering another bus and another Chevy Suburban since their oldest one has over 150,000 miles on it.
“Now is the time to do those,” GWISD board president Cheri Dee Moore said. “They aren’t going to go away and get any younger.”
The board also approved of purchasing a new truck for the agriculture department and then swapping out the old maintenance truck with the current agriculture truck. They also approved some software upgrades as well.
In other GWISD news:
• The Texas Primary Reading Inventory results are in and 93 percent of last year’s second-graders are identified as independent readers. But there was some catching up to do for kindergartners and first-graders. Nine kindergartners were identified as still-developing and a few at the “frustrational level,” according to Robin Sellman, director of educational services. This means those students struggle when reading out loud.
Sellman said 84 percent of the first-graders are independent readers and 88 percent of kindergartners are developed. But, 52 percent are reading at grade-level in first grade.
“They are understanding, but not as quick,” Sellman said.
She also said these issues will be addressed next year, just like last year when the students went from 78 percent to 93 percent meeting comprehension goals.
• The board approved contracts for the following staff members:
Ashley Lowe – junior high principal
Jessica Hall – junior high science
Nancy O’Neil – junior high social studies
Michael Williamson – band director
Regan Carriger – high school social studies/coach
Robby Glasscock – high school independent studies/coach
Cris Luna – high school math