At a special budget workshop tonight, the MISD Board discussed primarily three topics.
First up Superintendent Dr. John Fuller presented a proposed new plan to completely separate bus traffic from car traffic at the elementary and high schools. The proposal included a new bus lane that would load and unload students in a separate area. The plan included walkways to get students where they need to be. It was proposed that the board work with Wood County to make the bus lanes. This would allow the project to occur at the least possible expense while using the funds paid to the county to help with county projects not in their budget. Board member, Rodney Watkins, added that there would be no labor cost if using the county for the project.
The proposed bus lane would likely be constructed of a sand base with an oil top, like many county roads are. This allows the board to get this project done without having to hire an outside paving contractor.
Many of the details of this project are still yet to be determined. Tonight, Dr. Fuller simply asked for the board’s approval to move forward with the concept and seek more information on getting the project done. The board unanimously approved this request.
Second on the list was the contract for copy machines for MISD. Budget Business Systems of Mineola was given the approval to continue supplying copy products to the school system. Innovative Office Systems of Longview was the other bidder for this service. The two companies took differing bid strategies, but in the end they were very close to the same and, due to contract provisions, Budget Office Systems of Mineola ended up being slightly less over a 3-year period, not to mention the fact that they have satisfactorily provided this service for more than a decade.
The final agenda item of the evening was budget, which immediately went to teacher pay increases. Other items were touched on such as outsourced maintenance on some of the newer buses that cannot be done in house, items to complete band uniforms and other budgetary requests from the incoming band director. The budget is comprehensive and was presented quite thoroughly by Assistant Superintendent for Business & Operations, William Bjork. Bjork was able to answer many questions asked by the board members, questions like how and why stipends for things like band leaders, coaches and department heads have been broken out of the general salary accounts. This provides more accurate reporting and allows the school to see, as Dr. Fuller pointed out, it details how much money is spent purely on education without consideration of extracurricular activities. This is the standard, according to Fuller, that other schools follow, which allows for more accurate comparisons among school systems statewide.
After all projected revenue is collected and all projected expenditures are satisfied, the MISD has a projected surplus of $204,662. To keep the standard healthcare package free for employees will cost $51,840 of this surplus. The general consensus among board members was to keep the basic plan for employees free. Total salaries are down a little more than $50,000 less this year, mostly due to teachers at the high scale retiring and being replaced by new teachers, who are paid less.
Once the healthcare cost is accounted for, the board has $152,043 available for employee pay increases. If they allocate a 2% raise for teachers, this would leave a surplus of $779 in the proposed budget. Asst. Superintendent Bjork also calculated a 1% and a 1.5% raise in his numbers:
- 1% raise costs the system $76k
- 1.5% raise costs the system $114k
- 2& raise costs the system $152k
This budget was not voted on tonight. A consensus was taken and the consensus was approval of the healthcare costs with a 1.5% raise. Members Holly Mischnick and Jill Quiambo were both in favor of the 2% raise. Quiambo noted several times that this year is an important year for our school system and that the board was off to a great start with meaningful improvements and that avoiding any morale drains was important. “This is our year to shine,” she said, speaking of MISD in general. “We don’t need morale problems,” she said. Given the fact that STAAR test results were disappointing in a previous meeting, teachers will no doubt be called on to go above and beyond. Dr. John Fuller seems very motivated to create and environment where terms like “college ready” are used throughout the high school campus.
Members Watson and Gully leaned more toward the middle amount for raises. Dr. Fuller told the board that just because money for other items was budgeted does not mean it will be spent. He assured the board that he will be smart with all expenditures. Fuller seemed very much in favor of the larger raise structure. Last year, MISD employees got only step raises. The proposed raises will not be paid on stipends for extracurricular activities, they apply only to base salary. They also would not be given to those new employees entering the system this year. These raises are mid-point raises, where jobs are categorized and the raises are based on the mean salary within the category.
The new budget must be approved by August 30th and will be presented to the board for approval on August 19th. If this is something that is of concern to you, you have time to contact your MISD Board member.
The poll below assumes the fact that a maximum 2% raise is all that is possible as allowed by the 2013-14 budget.
Assuming the 2013-14 MISD budget satisfies all needs of students, what size raise should the board allow MISD employees? (This is a 5-day poll)
- 2% (83%, 20 Votes)
- No raise is needed at this time (8%, 2 Votes)
- 1.5% (8%, 2 Votes)
- 1% (0%, 0 Votes)
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Total Voters: 24