District continues budget talks
By LPR Staff
While the State Legislature’s special session drags on and questions about school finance linger in the air, Lockhart Independent School District administrators and trustees are forced to continue moving forward in budget preparations, hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.
During a brief Monday evening meeting, those tal
ks turned – for a moment – away from cuts and toward ways for the district to increase their revenue streams.
For several months, Superintendent Dr. Jose Parra and Chief Financial Officer Tina Knudsen have been encouraging the Trustees to “think outside the box” and consider not only reductions in spending, but increases in funding.
They brought forward three such notions on Monday evening.
The first, Knudsen said, is a small change that is expected to generate around $3,000 per year for the district – an increase in the rental fees for district facilities.
The current fees, Knudsen said, were set in 2000, and have not been evaluated since that time. The board voted unanimously to enact the change, the details of which will become more readily available as the district moves forward in budget talks.
They also voted unanimously to increase the Infant Room fees at the Cub House, from $23 per day to $27.15 per day, and to impose a $50 registration fee for Cub House enrollment. Currently, district employees may utilize the childcare services provided by the Cub House for a fee, while student-parents are allowed to use the facility free of charge.
There has been no serious talk of closing the Cub House, or of imposing fees for student-parents to utilize the facility.
Knudsen said it would be difficult to predict how the fee increases might impact enrollment in the future, but suggested the increases stand to generate around $9,800 in additional revenue for the District. She also noted the increased fee and the registration fee are comparable to the fees being charged by private-industry childcare providers in Lockhart and the surrounding area.
The third and most potentially profitable idea for generating revenue is the design and licensing of a trademarked logo for the District.
The idea of a trademarked logo was initially presented to the board early this spring, and was greeted at that time with enthusiasm. However, as research on the process involved in licensing the trademark continued, certain local businesses stepped forward with concerns about how the trademark would be executed, and how doing so would impact those businesses and their relationship with the district.
In an effort to address those concerns, which Knudsen said were expressed in writing just prior to the meeting, she suggested the trustees hold off on considering the proposal, and said she would return with more information at a later date.
The Trustees also discussed, at length, the possibility of reducing stipend and extra-duty pay for staff members, and in some cases removing those perks altogether. Although Parra has committed to addressing budgetary concerns and funding reductions with as little impact on the staff as possible, some board members said they felt the removal of the stipends was “nickel-and-diming” the staff, and recommended against any action that would result in a definitive pay cut.
The trustees split on the issue, with Tom Guyton, Alfredo Munoz and Board President Timoteo “Tim” Juarez, Jr., voting to enact the cuts as Knudsen suggested, and Trustees Brenda Spillmann, Chip Pittman and Vice-President Susan Brook voting against the measure. Each of the three dissenting voters said they would like to have more information on exactly how the cuts would impact the present staff prior to making a concrete decision on the matter.
The LISD Board of Trustees is next expected to meet on Monday, June 27 at 6:30 p.m. in the Lockhart High School Conference Center (Old Library). The meetings are open to the public, and are also webcast at www.lockhartisd.org.