LISD approves FY 2008-2009 budget


Approved budget based upon small tax increase

By LPR Staff

With little public scrutiny and no public input offered, the Lockhart Independent School District Board of Trustees approved a budget that will include a small tax increase on Monday evening during their regular June meeting. Though a public hearing regarding the budget and

tax rate was scheduled, no members of the public attended the meeting to offer input on the budget or tax rate.
The budget for the upcoming fiscal year is based upon a tax rate for the Maintenance and Operations Budget for $1.04 per $100 of valuation, and a debt service rate of $0.1772, which equates to a combined tax rate of $1.2172 per $100 of valuation. Last year’s combined rate was $1.202.
For a taxpayer with a home valued at $100,000, the increase will mean a total increase in taxes of around $15 next year.
Included in the budget is a 1.5-percent increase in the district’s pay scale. Because of the way pay grades are structured, most employees will not realize a 1.5-percent pay increase. However, the “steps” of the pay scale, on the whole, will increase by 1.5 percent. According to the District’s Chief Financial Officer, Tina Knudsen, the increase in the pay scale is designed as in increase in pay for new-hires, for recruiting purposes, and for determination of pay raises.
The budget also includes a pay increase of $1,000 for all teachers, and a 2-percent, across-the-board raise for all other employees.
While the budget has been approved, the tax rate increase itself has not been voted upon, and is expected to be discussed by the trustees later this summer.
In other business:
Assistant Superintendent James Rabe delivered a telling report regarding last years Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills Test (TAKS) results.
According to the initial figures the district received from the Texas Education Agency (TEA), Lockhart students are gaining ground and achieving success at most levels. Rabesaid most campuses have distinctive plans in place that have been instrumental to student success, with the end result of nearly all district campuses scoring high enough to gain “Recognized” status. The final reports and accountability ratings should be available from TEA later this summer.
However, student performance at Lockhart High School continues to be a sticking point.
Rabe said there are 85 students in the advancing senior class that have not yet passed all elements of their Exit Level TAKS test, and are therefore at risk of not graduating next May. By TEA standards, the number is acceptable, amounting to around 10 percent of the senior class. According to Rabe, the trustees and LHS Principal Larry Ramirez, the figure continues to present a problem.
“We know who these kids are and who is teaching them,” Ramirez said. “[Several] are involved in remedial classes and tutorials, but sometimes what we’ve seen is that attendance in those sessions is a problem. The students are going to their regular classes instead of going to the tutorials.”
Ramirez continued, explaining to the trustees that each identified student is required to be involved in remediation unless the child’s parents sign a waiver of those extra tutorial hours. Many, he expects, will be able to pass the test some time this year, and graduate with their peers.
Under current board policy, any student that has not passed all elements of the Exit Level TAKS may not participate in commencement activities at the end of their senior year. Several times in the last five years, parents have approached the board requesting the policy be changed. However, those requests often come at the last meeting of the school year, within days of graduation, at a point which the board has no time left to review or alter the policy.
After 14 years of service to the children of the Lockhart Independent School District, former trustee Carl Ohlendorf bid a fond, heartwarming farewell to his former colleagues, administrators and staff of the district. Ohlendorf took his place on the board after being asked to fill in an unexpired term, and stayed, instead of the original 18-month period he intended, for nearly 15 years.
In brief news:
The trustees approved a “pilot program” that will allow teachers a cash reimbursement at the end of the school year for leave time not taken over the course of the instructional year. The hope is that the incentive, which may cost the district nearly $20,000, will encourage teachers not to take time off except in cases of emergency or illness.
They approved a bid to replace the dishwasher at Navarro Elementary School. The appliance, according to the district’s new Assistant Superintendent of Operations Cliff Gardener, has been operational since the campus was built in 1972.
The board approved the purchase of new uniforms for the 102 members of the district’s custodial staff. Each member of the staff receives a total of 11 uniforms which are picked up to launder once each week. The new uniforms, which administration suggested were chosen with the needs and desires of the custodial staff in mind, cost $27,484.08.
The Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees meets on the fourth Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the Conference Center at Lockhart High School. The meetings are open to the public and parents, students and concerned citizens are encouraged to attend.


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