Tyler ISD has proposed no raises for the next budget year but plans to add several new positions as part of its strategic plan, according to a presentation made Monday during the school board workshop.
Chief Financial Officer Tosha Bjork said any revenue increase would primarily support positions referenced in the district's strategic plan or additional facility expenses associated with bond-related construction.
"I feel like we did the best we could," she said. "We're looking forward to 2015-16 and what's coming there and have to anticipate that."
The proposed budget features a $3.4 million net revenue increase. That's despite a $417,000 state funding decrease.
The decrease is caused by two factors: TISD's average daily attendance declined by about 250 students, and local property tax values increased by 3.5 percent to date.
Those two factors combined equaled a $1.6 million state revenue decrease. However, a $1.2 million state contribution to the Teacher Retirement System of Texas mitigates the overall state funding decrease, bringing it to a little more than $417,000.
The proposed payroll and benefits uses for the additional revenue include: The addition of a grant writer, Three Lakes Middle School principal, Early College High School director, student intervention specialist, custodians for July and August 2015 for new school buildings, full-time employees for special education versus consultants and a stipend increase for certified bilingual teachers.
In the instruction and instructional support category, Ms. Bjork proposes to use the funds to cover expenses related to: a Camp Tyler visit for fifth-graders, the TSI Foundations Course for seniors to ensure college-readiness and the RTI Universal Screener to help identify students in need of academic help.
Other proposed fund uses include hiring an outside consultant to help the district determine if it is receiving all the reimbursements it can for health-related services provided to special education students.
It also includes utilities and supplies expenses for added campuses, network expansion, administrator testing fees and the district's preventive maintenance fund.
Almost $700,000 remains unbudgeted at this point. Ms. Bjork said her recommendation is to use these funds on a one-time expenditure, which could be an employee stipend.
Superintendent Gary Mooring said last year the district gave a large raise to employees because it hadn't in several years. However, this year the district does not have the funds to do this, so administrators are considering a stipend, Mooring said.
Ms. Bjork said she likely will provide one more presentation about the budget before it is presented to the board for approval at the August meeting.
In other business, the board approved the selection of several existing administrators to serve as new principals on campuses.
Forrest Kaiser will be the first principal at Three Lakes Middle School, which is slated to open in fall 2015. Kaiser has been the Caldwell Elementary Arts Academy principal for three years.
"I am honored to be a part of creating something new and amazing here in Tyler ISD," Kaiser said, adding that he appreciates the commitment the community has to the campus and school district.
At Jack Elementary School, Assistant Principal Patricia Henderson will become the principal. Former Principal Shauna Hittle was named executive director of elementary education for TISD last month.
Ms. Henderson said she has been mentored by Ms. Hittle for many years and is ready to step into her new role.
"We have a great district," she said. "I'm at a great school. I'm so excited."
Other new personnel include: Dr. Jamey Johnson, director of elementary instruction; Johnita Martin, director of research and accountability; and Stacy Miles, Head Start director.
The school board also accepted the resignation of Bonner Elementary School Principal Susan Limmer, who accepted a position in another school district.
Mooring also addressed the district's aquatics center. Mooring said at an upcoming board meeting he plans to bring a recommendation forward that would advise the district to commit up to $2.3 million toward the construction of a natatorium.
The project would require additional funding, likely a match, to pay for the facility. And Mooring said swimming community is confident they can do that.
It will cost at least $4 million to build a 25-meter pool and at least $7 million to build a 50-meter facility, Mooring said.
He said the existing facility at 5210 New Copeland Road does not have a 25-meter pool and cannot be used for swim meets.
Part of the pool is sinking and every year the district has to do what it can to hold it together.
If the pool reaches the point it is unusable, the swim program will be in danger of closing down.
At this point, Robert E. Lee High School is the only TISD school with a competitive program. But the program has been successful and has the potential to grow to other schools in the district, Mooring said.
Lee has won district six straight years, and five of the top 20 students in this year's Lee graduating class were swim students, all of whom picked their Coach Matt Franks as the educator that most impacted them throughout their school career.