Board takes administration to task for budget errors


By LPR Staff

The Lockhart Independent School District called administrators to task on Monday evening after a promise to cut the district”s budget by $400,000 fell significantly short.
According to LISD Assistant Superintendent Phil McBride, the budget approved by the board last month was flawed, including duplications of several tea

cher salaries.
“When the budget came through in August, there were several employees who had either retired or resigned, and both they and their replacements were both on the payroll,” McBride explained to the board. When those errors were caught and corrected, the reduction in the budget amounted to $447,332.
Each school had been instructed to cut costs by $40,000. However, the numbers presented to the board indicated only $135,000 in cuts. The remaining reductions came from what McBride called “payroll cleanup.”
“… You want to take credit for taking $447,000 out of the budget that never should have been put in there in the first place,” trustee Dennis Placke said. Placke asked the other trustees to send administration back to the drawing board to find an addtiional $265,000 in cuts.
Trustee Alan Fielder agreed that more work needs to be done.
“While you found the cuts, I don”t think it quite goes far enough,” he said. “For next year, for the better service of the board and the district, I think we need to start looking at the budget now.”
Fielder cautioned that the district could not count on additional taxpayer support, as the district has reached the mandated cap of $1.50 per $100 of valuation. He also said the legislature could not be relied upon to solve the Texas education funding crisis, so the amount required to balance the budget, some $1.3 million, would have to come from within.
As early as January 2006 the board intends to begin looking at the budget for the next fiscal year. Although none expressed an eagerness to cut staff, all agreed that staff cuts were a possibility they might have to face.
Superintendent John Hall suggested the budget increases were a direct result of the opening of Bluebonnet Elementary, an increase the board was well aware of.
“You”re being asked to carve out that $1 million that we warned the board about [when we talked about opening Bluebonnet],” Hall cautioned the administrators.
The trustees also agreed to grant a once-annual waiver on “no-pass, no-play” requirements for students in Advanced Placement (AP) courses.
The request was made by LHS principal Larry Ramirez. Hall suggested that students at the freshman campus participating in “pre-AP” courses be included in the waiver, as well.
The University Interscholastic League (UIL) allows the waiver for students participating in advanced classes. Ramirez suggested that the waiver would encourage more students to participate in the AP classes without worrying about extra-curricular involvement. He stressed that the waiver could be used for any grading period, but could only be used once each year.
The trustees, particularly Placke and Gary Allen, voiced concern about the waiver, suggesting that students might be inclined to believe they could let their courses suffer from time to time. However, upon further scrutiny, it was decided that AP students are often high-achieving as a matter of course, and would likely not need to utilize the waiver.
Members of last year”s dominant Lockhart Lions varsity football team will have the opportunity to buy jerseys with their name embroidered on the back.
Last year, then-head coach Bryce Monsen opted to put players” names on the back of white game jerseys with the understanding that the jerseys would be made available to the students for purchase at a later date.
Incoming Boys” Athletic Director Les Goad approached the board this month with a request to release the jerseys for sale.
Original figures suggested that the jerseys be sold for their replacement cost, around $70 each. The trustees decided, however, that more students would be able to purchase the memorabilia at a lower cost.
Therefore, former athletes will be able to purchase the jerseys for $25 each until Jan. 15, 2006. Any leftover jerseys will be sold to the Athletic Booster Club at a salvage cost, with the understanding that the jerseys be sold as a fundraiser for the boosters.
For information about purchasing a jersey, contact the LHS Athletic Department at 398-0350.
Trustee Carl Ohlendorf, whose son was a member of the varsity squad last year, abstained form both the discussion and the vote.
In other board business:
The Lockhart ISD was chosen as a recipient of two computers in connection with the Computers for Kids Program. The program, sponsored by Frito-Lay and orchestrated in connection with Wal-Mart”s Lockhart store, provided the Compaq computers to Lockhart High School at no charge to the district.
Tom A. Efrid, a former student of Lockhart High School, was granted his high school diploma. Efrid, originally a member of the LHS Class of 1958, was unable to graduate with his class. Hall, along with the board, opted to right the wrong done Efrid nearly 50 years ago. Donning a cap and gown, Efrid accepted his high school diploma while family and friends watched proudly,
For the third year, Lockhart ISD was recognized by the Texas Schools Fiscal Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST). Texas Schools FIRST was enacted by the Texas Legislature several years ago to hold Texas school districts to the highest possible level of fiscal accountability. Finance Director Tina Knudsen presented the report in which LISD was deemed to be a “superior” district for the third year.
In brief board news:
The board approved a contract with Communities in Schools to place CIS personnel in four campuses.
Lockhart High School”s Roaring Lion Band is planning a Spring Break trip. With the approval of the board, the band will travel to either Orlando, Fla., or New York City during the week of Spring Break 2006.
Trustees approved five nominations to the Caldwell County Appraisal District”s board of directors. The nominees were: Tommy Barron, Lisa Garza, Dave Moore, Brenda Chambliss and Martin Mojica.
Construction on the music room and parking lot at Navarro Elementary is slated for completion next week.
Elementary campus librarians and principals will be asked to merge and redistribute library books to bring all five campuses up to state-mandated inventory levels.
The trustees approved a contract with Austin Community College to oversee the Career and Technology Education (CATE) program at Lockhart High School.


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