EARLY - Trustees of the Early Independent School District approved a budget for the 2008-2009 year, but delayed setting a tax rate until further information can be obtained from its financial consultant regarding unexpected funds for facilities from the Texas Education Agency.

Superintendent Brett Koch told trustees that earlier in the day, the district received word that it is qualified for an additional Instructional Facilities Allotment grant, money that will affect the district’s bonded indebtedness, and therefore its interest and sinking fund tax rate.

“We’ll need to adopt this rate by the end of September, but we need to set the tax rate where it needs to be so the taxpayers will get the maximum state assistance,” Koch said.

Early schools will receive an additional $180,564 per year for the 25-year life of the bond package, or a total of $2.8 million, Koch said.

District officials plan to meet next week with their financial consultant, Jeff Robert, senior vice president of First Southwest Company in Dallas, and Doran Lemke, chief appraiser of the Brown County Appraisal District. Koch said a new proposed debt rate would need to be announced by the board, but the data needed to do so probably won’t be available until after the dates required to have it ready for action at the board’s regular September meeting. So some special meetings will be called.

But the board did approve its budget for the coming year, which begins Sept. 1. The general fund of the budget will be $10,191,321, and the total of all funds - including the general fund, food service, technology, high school allotment, Heartland Coop and debt service - is $13,474,294.

The budget includes the purchase of 62 computers for the elementary campus as well as the purchase of a new bus.

Koch said the administration and board will need to carefully monitor the budget throughout the year, as the number of students on which it is based is tracking very closely to the number of students enrolled after classes opened Monday. State funding of schools is calculated on attendance.

“It’s a budget that’s support by our ADA (average daily attendance), but we’ll have to monitor it closely,” Koch said. “It’s going to be tight. We have a good budget, a very good budget, and it will serve the district well.”

Koch said historically, many educators have said enrollments don’t peak until after Labor Day, but that trend has changed since Texas schools moved back their opening until later in August.

“I don’t necessarily cling to that,” Koch said. “I think we pretty much have what we have now. A few will trickle in here and there, but I think we will be in the 1,230 to 1,240 range.” State revenue was budgeted on an ADA of 1,230.

As the 2007-2008 year ends, trustees approved several budget amendments to close out the year, and designated its excess fund balance for construction in a move that helps its financial rating with the state. After the new year ends, the board can change the designation, if necessary.