Preliminary plans for budgeting and overall district goals were discussed Monday by members of the Brownwood Independent School District and Dr. Sue Jones, superintendent, in anticipation of the new school year. While classes will begin during the final week of August, the fiscal year starts Sept. 1.
“We feel good about what was budgeted (for the current year),” Jones said. Local revenue is projected to be $90,000 in the black, with positive balances also projected for state and federal accounts.
Jones outlined what she described as very preliminary budget proposals, and trustees expressed no opposition to moving forward with plans in the direction she described. Among those goals would be to better the state’s additional $425 in educator incentives. She said the state money is described as an incentive, but the district has found that the best way to make certain school employees realize they’ve gotten the increase is to put it in the salary schedule.
“I’ve stamped the word ‘draft’ all over this,” Jones said of the worksheets she distributed showing possible pay increase proposals of varying percentages.
“I hate to put anything down until we take a look at everything in the whole budget… We’re talking about targets. The idea is to have fewer people and pay them better. It seems to be working, because we’ve had less turnover.”
Jones said the district has reduced its professional staff by two people overall, and with other reductions has realized a total savings of $120,000.
The superintendent said the impact on the district of future increases in the minimum wage are being calculated, and Brownwood pay scales were also compared to the state minimums.
“No where is it less than $1,000 (over the state base), which is good,” Jones said. “Five years ago, it was zero. That’s been one of our goals.”
Jones also noted that increases in health insurance premiums — which will be another $276 a year for the plan used by most employees, but even more for many — will eat into the $425 additional money from the state. An increase in the rate for retirement would add another $52.
“As we go into these very preliminary figures, we try to be conservative,” Jones said, “but we try to get the teachers what we can.”
She also included data on attendance incentives and a 20-year anniversary benefit the district provides.
“I think the district is very well served… I think the teachers are very well served by this information you’ve provided,” trustee Dr. Justin Murphy said.
In other budget matters, Jones said the district is within its fuel budget for 2006-07, and is under its utility budget, except for electricity, which is still just slightly over.
The board also reviewed the district’s vision statement, mission statement and goals for the current year, and trustees made suggestions for some modifications. The three-part goals statement calls for exemplary academic programs that challenge all students including advanced students, exceptional behavior by emphasizing character and high standards for behavior, and quality maintenance on all buildings and facilities.
In other business Monday, the board:
Devoted almost 20 minutes to a discussion of custodial services at Brownwood High School. The current provider, Draco’s Janitorial, was the only bidder for the school year beginning Sept. 1, but at least two trustees said they had received a call earlier that day from a citizen complaining about the condition of restrooms at the high school in the area where a summer school class is being conducted.
BHS Principal Bill Faircloth told the board it had been originally planned not to have summer classes at the high school, but when the decision was made to do so, he had failed to notify the company its services would be needed.
“They are cleaning there even as we speak,” Faircloth said. He added that through the five years the company has had the contract, its employees “have done everything they’ve been asked. They clean two times a day, and if we need a third time, they come right out.”
Jones said the restrooms had been in use even though an “out of order” sign was posted on the door, and probably because of that, no one had tried to flush. Nevertheless, the plumbing is operational, the superintendent said.
She added that the situation points to the fact that construction at the campus “has caused some major challenges: Is it construction trash? Is is teacher trash? But we’ve been pleased with the service from that standpoint.”
Jones said as a district, “We need to address some construction-maintenance-cleaning issues. We can improve it. We can continue to work with these different groups.”
Several trustees agreed with the superintendent’s suggestion that a survey of teacher and staff perceptions of the service would be a valuable supplement to the weekly meetings held by Faircloth, Assistant Superintendent Kevin Gabaree and company owner Draco Miller.
The board, after being told the agreement has a 30-day cancellation provision, voted unanimously to approve the one-year contract with Draco’s Janitorial at a cost of just over $200,000, up from about $197,000.
Heard Larry Gallemore of Key and Piskuran Insurance say that by the July board meeting, he plans to have a written report on the extensive work needed on district buildings on roofs damaged by hail.
The report is expected to have details on costs and completion dates for the work, much of it to repair damage dating back to May 2006.
“I’m sorry it’s taken so long,” Gallemore said, “but it’s been a pretty major process. It’s no fault of anybody here at the school. They’ve done a really great job.”
Approved a change order for the front portion of the high school roof to allow the entire front section to be completed and brought up to code standards. A contract is already in place for the middle front portion of the high school roof. The cost of $190,457 will address issues in the math and English wings and will be funded through roofing hail damage funds, Gabaree told the board. Approved the bid of $175,255 from Allcom Solutions for a voice over IP/data system for Brownwood Middle School and Coggin Elementary School. In addition to providing communications options in the classrooms, the system will also provide additional security for students and teachers, Jones said. The only other bid was from Calence for $213,260.73.