A budget that includes a minimum teacher pay raise of $1,800 a year plus $38 more a month for health insurance premiums was adopted by members of the Brownwood Independent School District board of trustees Wednesday afternoon.

Tax rates of $1.04 per $100 valuation for maintenance and operations and $.2307 for the interest and sinking fund were adopted, the figures proposed by the board on Aug. 13. The total tax rate is being reduced from the current $1.597 to $1.2707, a drop of $.3263.

The reduction reflects a statewide school property tax rate reduction for operations mandated by the Texas Legislature. The bonded indebtedness portion of the rate is approved by local voters.

“The (pay) increase has been well-received by the district staff,” Dr. Sue Jones, superintendent, told the board. “I’ve received more e-mails expressing appreciation to the board for doing that.”

“I think we should express appreciation to you for finding the funds in the budget and not being extravagant in other other areas in order to take care of our teachers,” board member Dr. Justin Murphy said. “They put in long hours with the students, and we should take care of our teachers.”

Jones said the budget was a joint effort of the administrative staff of the district.

“Thanks for a great job on preparing the budget,” board President Michael Coppic said.

By function, the 2007-2008 budget totals $25,014,012 for maintenance and operations, $1,456,707 for food service and $2,868,409 for debt service.

So far, Jones added, enrollment for the school year is about 86 less than it was on the third day of class in 2006, but last year showed an increase of 100 students. Still, she said, enrollment remains about 30 students above the level that was used in the budget to calculate state funding. She said enrollment typically grows gradually through the end of October, and she expects it will top out above 3,500.

Enrollment at Brownwood High School stood at 898 on Wednesday, and she noted that the cutoff between Class 3A and Class 4A schools as the last realignment in February 2006 was 950. Brownwood is currently a small 4A school.

The enrollment of schools on the last Friday in October is used by the state for realignment.

The board also approved year ending budget amendment for the fiscal year ending Friday. Jones said the district received more revenues than had been budgeted, and explained places where funds for insurance-related repairs and construction at the Brownwood High fine arts center and other areas were not expended.

“Food service was also very conservative,” Jones said, as that fund has a balance of $142,745. “That’s the exception instead of the rule for school food service. It’s not very often that food service finishes in the black.” She credited the efforts of Food Service Director Michelle Helms and Assistant Superintendent Jeana Moss.

“The goal is not to make money in food service, but to break even if you can,” Jones said. “The amount is pretty close to breaking even on a budget that size.”

Debt service has a fund balance of $141,000, and Jones said the tax rate to fund debt may be able to be shaved a penny next year if the trend continues.

“This is separate from the construction funds,” Jones said. “We’ll have a report on that for the board at the September meeting.”

Trustees also approved reports on procedures to be used for three campuses eligible for the Governor’s Excellence Incentive Grants. They are Brownwood Intermediate and Northwest Elementary schools, $75,000 each; and Brownwood Accelerated High School. Board members praised the inclusiveness of the award plans, which reward staff members for reaching key campus goals. The funds will be received by the district in May next year, and paid in July.