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LISD grapples with budgets, pay raises

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By LPR Staff
Editor/POST-REGISTER

During a brief meeting which included a public hearing on Monday evening, the Lockhart Independent School District Board of Trustees considered a budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which suggests a tax rate increase and a pay raise for district employees.

Although the final figures may change when the Caldwell County

Appraisal District finalizes the 2009 tax rolls, the budget approved by the trustees on Monday is predicated on a tax rate of $1.04 per $100 of valuation for maintenance and operations and $0.19 per $100 for interest and sinking, making a total tax rate of $1.23, up slightly from last year’ $1.2225.

“If the property values don’t come back as we expect, we might have to come back with a different recommendation,” Superintendent Dr. Jose Parra said. “But if the property values come back higher than we anticipate, we might be able to make a recommendation that we can lower that rate.”

The board will vote on the final tax rate later this summer, after the certified tax rolls are submitted by the appraisal district on or around July 25.

Of particular note in the $38 million budget approved by the board on Monday is a 3 percent pay increase for district employees. However, the pay increase will be calculated “from the midpoint” rather than “across the board,” a practice that sparked concern from Trustee Juan Alvarez.

“The raises are different for different people that have been here for different amounts of time,” he said. “Someone that’s been here for a year might get a bigger raise than someone that has been here three years.”

LISD staff in attendance at the meeting applauded Alvarez’s concerns, and Parra said consideration of an “across the board” increase is something he would look into in the future.

Under the current pay scale, district employees are divided into pay grades, and raises will be calculated at the center point of each pay grade. Therefore, while each employee in a pay grade will receive the same amount of money as a pay increase, those increases will not be at equal percentages.

“An employee who at the higher end of the pay grade, the amount may not equal 3 percent of their salary while someone at the lower end, it might be more than three percent, depending where they are on the scale,” Parra said. “But each employee in the pay grade will receive the same dollar amount.”

In brief news:
The board considered the district’s student transfer policy. Currently, out-of-district students may be approved to attend school in the district without paying tuition. While the district does receive funding for these students from the state for average daily attendance levels, some districts do consider tuition for out-of-district students.

According to Assistant Superintendent Cliff Gardner, there are around 150 transfer students expected in the district this year, including 23 children of employees and 13 special education students.

They accepted a variety of bids in the amount of $13,015.32 for equipment and uniforms for fall sports.

They considered several personnel issues, including the hiring of several teachers, several resignations, and a possible extension of Parra’s contract. Most of the discussion of these issues took place behind closed doors in an executive session.

The LISD Board of Trustees regularly meets on the fourth Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the Conference Center of Lockhart High School. The meetings are open to the public and parents, students and community residents are invited to attend. For those who cannot attend, the meetings are also offered via webcast at www.lockhartisd.org.

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