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LISD approves 2020-21 tax rate

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By Wesley Gardner
LPR Editor

The Lockhart school district Board of Trustees on Monday unanimously approved a total tax rate for 2020 of $1.1671 per $100 valuation, a decrease of 9.526 cents from last year’s rate of $1.2636.
Although trustees approved a tax rate decrease, the average property owner will still see a 3.097 percent increase in their overall school tax rate because of rising property values.
Last year, the district approved a seven-cent decrease from the 2018 tax rate of $1.3325 to $1.2636 in 2019. With another year of property value increases, the district was able to approve the additional 9.526 cent decrease to the newly approved rate of $1.1671. Of that savings, six cents came from a decrease in the Maintenance & Operations Rate, and 3.5 cents comes from a decrease in the Interest and Sinking Rate. 
By comparison, Lockhart’s 2020 tax rate is lower than neighboring San Marcos CISD’s rate of $1.189 per $100 and Hays CISD’s rate of $1.4037 per $100.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to reduce the tax rates as property values continue to rise,” said Superintendent Mark Estrada. “Because the legislature committed state funding to offset the difference during this biennium, it has provided taxpayers welcome relief while also providing the needed funding for school districts.” 
In other business, trustees discussed potentially extending the amount of time students would be required to attend school from home, but ultimately stayed with the previously targeted day of Sept. 14.
“Our leadership has been in consultation with local and state officials, tracking regional COVID-19 cases, in order to determine the next steps for learning in LISD,” said Estrada. “In reviewing the data, which is showing an encouraging and steady decline in cases, and in seeing the impact of the mask orders by Governor Greg Abbott and local authorities, we feel confident in proceeding with on-campus learning beginning Sept. 14 for those parents who signed up for this option in the learning environment choice questionnaire.”
District officials noted that Lockhart Junior High School students, however, will not begin on-campus learning until Oct. 19 when work is completed on an outdated HVAC system. Estrada noted that HVAC replacement was originally planned to be completed before the start of the school year, though manufacturing delays caused by COVID-19 pushed the project back.
“As with many industries, the manufacturing of these custom parts was impacted by the pandemic, and the completion of the project will not occur until mid-October,” said Estrada. “While we are able to safely host staff at the campus, we will not be equipped to safely receive 1,509 LJHS students until the new HVAC system is in place.
“We recognize this is a longer wait for our LJHS students to have the opportunity to return on campus at a time when many were so eager to come back. We wish the situation was safe enough to allow for this, but until it is safe, all LJHS students will continue distance learning.” 
For the rest of the campuses, Estrada said parents who originally opted for distance learning can continue to have their children learn online after Sept. 14 as planned.
“At any time, a parent may switch their child from on-campus learning to distance learning, as this does not require consideration for class sizes and staffing,” said Estrada. “However, any parent wishing to switch their child from distance learning to on-campus learning must wait for the district’s invitation for parent requests for change in learning environment due by the seventh week of each nine-week period. 
“This enables us to review class sizes and staffing that supports safe social distancing and practices aligned with Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations.”

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