An appeal of a state ruling that found property values in the Brownwood school district are too low has been denied, and it will begin to cost the district state funding if not corrected after another year.
Dr. Sue Jones, Brownwood school superintendent, told trustees Monday night that the school has one year left in a three-year grace period.
“Because this was the second year of not meeting the expectations of the state, the district will be in the last year of the grace period for the coming year,” Jones said in a briefing memo. “If local values do not meet the state values in the coming year, the district will begin to lose state funding.”
Jones said among the $600 million worth of values the state reviewed, the district values were off by $250,000, or .037 of 1 percent.
“But like (Assistant Superintendent Kevin Gabaree) said, it’s like in sports,” Jones said. “It doesn’t matter what the score was, you still lost the game.”
Board President Michael Coppic, one of the school district’s representatives on the appraisal district board, said the values are most out of compliance in the $24,000 to $28,000 range.
“The district has no alternative other than suffer the loss,” Jones said, should the third year pass the the values are still judged by the state to be too low.
“You’re not getting the money from local taxes, and you’re not getting the money from the state,” Jones added.
Through school funding formulae, the state would begin paying the district based on the state assigned values rather the local values if they remain too low.
If the district was being penalized this year, it would reduce state funding by $250,000, but it’s difficult to calculate what it might be in the future.
“It’s a moving target each year, based on property sales,” Jones said. “Just be aware of that.”
If budget for the school year of 2008-2009 would be affected if the values are not found to be in line with state calculations, Jones said.
Rapidly rising property values, particularly around the lake, and other market factors make it difficult to keep up, school officials said.
Brown County Chief Appraiser Doran Lemke told trustees Feb. 12 the Texas Comptroller’s office requires that the appraisal district values be at least 95 percent of the state calculations. A bill to open the margin to 90 percent was considered by the Texas Legislature this spring, but failed to win passage. Lemke said that extra percentage would have but Brownwood schools within the tolerance range.
In other business, the school board:
Approved the purchase of a nine-passenger 2007 Suburban from Bruner Auto Group for $30,588.35. Bruner was the only bidder, but also submitted an alternate bid of $28,845.88 for a 2007 Tahoe. Gabaree said the larger size would allow additional gear to be carried along with nine passengers.
Administrators said the district uses one Suburban, one Expedition and one minivan for staff and student travel. The minivan will be moved to the custodial department for use by its supervisor. Funds for the purchase were included in the budget for the current year.
Approved a proposal from Stanley Walker and Associates for student athletic insurance costing $22,750 and another from Painter and Johnson Associates for $1,769 for student athletic catastrophic coverage.
“It’s always a challenge to review and figure out the best plan,” Gabaree told the board. The Stanley Walker plan was $1,750 more than the low bid by The Baker Agency, but Gabaree said the administration was recommending the local carrier because it would allow parents the opportunity to speak with a local agent in person should a claim arise.
“I certainly prefer doing business locally like this,” trustee John Nickols said.
Gabaree emphasized that this is a good value secondary policy, designed to supplement medical plans families with student athletes may already have. He said the only complaints the school district has received about it are from parents who have no other medical coverage and wish that it could be more extensive.
Approved a one-year lease of school property at Avenue B and Austin Avenue where the Family Services Center has been operating. The space is provided as a in-kind donations valued at current fair market rates. Heard Jones report that checks being paid to teachers at Northwest Elementary, Brownwood Intermediate and Brownwood Middle School are expected to go out this week as part of the Texas Educator Excellence Grants awarded by the Texas Education Agency. Each school received $75,000 for the 2006-2007 school year, and campus officials developed goals and expectations on how the incentive funds would be distributed.
“We’re pleased to be a part of that and to put more money in the hands of staff members,” Jones said.
Accepted the resignation of Melissa Vaughn; and approved employment contracts Ronnie Hendricks, teacher/coach at the high school; Starla Tedford, English/Reading Special Education at the middle school; and Amber Coronado, science/English language arts at the intermediate school. Received a report from Technology Director Edward Yantis on the status of the district’s system. Yantis said the district offers students and teachers many features that “other districts would scream for” but still has room for improvements. He and the superintendent emphasized that the district continues to focus on student education, and not merely the technology, as it continues to improve.