Board Members Consider Change to Fiscal Year Start Date
Board Members Consider Change to Fiscal Year Start Date
Change could come as early as July 1, 2019
WFISD Chief Financial Officer Tim Sherrod presents the idea of changing the start and end date of the District’s fiscal year to board members in a Special Session Tuesday.
For years, the Wichita Falls ISD’s financial calendar has stretched from September 1 to August 31, with the fiscal year starting Sept. 1 and closing out Aug. 31.
But that timetable isn’t set in stone, and principals have been pushing for a change, said Tim Sherrod, chief financial officer.
He addressed the topic Feb. 13, 2018 at a Special Session of the board of trustees, held at the Education Center.
He explained that WFISD principals have told him they would like a fiscal year that starts July 1, beginning with the 2019-2010 school year, which would better suit their campus spending.
Several principals told Mr. Sherrod that they must hold back some funds in each fiscal year to have enough for ramping up the next school year in August. However, if the fiscal year ended June 30, principals could freely spend their campus budgets during each school year, knowing they would get a new influx of cash right when they need it: In early July, as they begin accelerating toward a new school year.
“They would not be having to save funds to start school,” said Mr. Sherrod.
There are other perks to a fiscal year start date of July 1 opposed to September 1, said Superintendent Mike Kuhrt. The federal budget, from which WFISD receives significant funding, operates on a July 1 fiscal year start date.
It also would be “cleaner and easier” from a Human Resources standpoint, since the District would pay its staff in the same year they worked for the District, with contracts ending June 30 as their teaching or education service ends for the school year.
Mr. Kuhrt said he could see only one downside to the change, which would come in legislative years. Typically the Texas Legislature adjourns in June, then meets again for a special session in July and August. That would require the District to be crafting its budget well before the final decisions are handed down from the legislature. “We’d adopt a budget not knowing,” said Mr. Kuhrt.
The WFISD Board will consider the resale bids for four properties submitted by Mr. Sherrod. The tax resale bids will go on the Consent Agenda.
The properties located at 701 Duncan Street, 618 Harrison Street, 1222 31st Street, and 111 McLaughlin Street were previously struck off the tax rolls to the City of Wichita Falls, which has acted as Trustee for the City, Wichita County and WFISD.
The City has received four separate written offers to purchase the properties and believes it is advantageous to sell them. This returns the properties to the tax roll. The 701 Duncan Street property, appraised for $750, would be sold for the current offer of $150. The property at 618 Harrison, currently appraised at $1,050, would be sold for the current offer of $750. The property at 1222 31st Street, currently appraised at $1,400, would be sold at the current offer of $1,000. The property located at 111 McLaughlin Street, currently appraised at $668, would be sold for the current offer of $300.
Financial report as of Dec. 31, 22017
Board members reviewed documents reporting the revenue and expenditure position of the District through Dec. 31, 2017 for all funds. The report represents four months of operations or 33.33 percent of the fiscal year. As of December 2016, the District had collected 42.36 percent of projected revenues, compared to the 2017-2018 collection of 46.58 percent. Expenditures for last year were 29.02 percent of the budget, as compared to 33.53 percent for 2017-2018.
General Fund revenues were 45.78 percent last year, compared to 47.07 percent this year. Expenditures were 31.88 percent last year, compared to 33.65 percent this year.
Food Service Fund revenues were 37.30 percent last year, compared to 30.62 percent this year. Expenditures were 32.47 percent last year compared to 36.66 percent this year.
Debt Service Fund revenues were 48.15 percent last year, compared to 45.28 percent this year. Expenditures were zero last year, compared to 0.02 percent this year.
January 2018 Budget Amendments
In a 6-0 vote, board members approved budget amendments for the 2017-2018 budget. Most are cross-function transfers, said Mr. Sherrod.
Inter-function budget transfers included $2,933 in fine arts expenses, such as instrument repair and choir travel, and about $9,500 in Partners in Education projects. PIE raises its funds but can only spend the revenue it collects by asking Mr. Sherrod for a budget transfer. “We are looking at budgeting this differently,” he said.
Mr. Sherrod launched the new budget cycle by giving board members a 2018-2019 Budget Calendar Summary, with due dates to be announced. The summary lists – for planning purposes – the board’s duty and the administration’s duty at each stage of the budget process. He will be working from this template and bringing in new information with each board meeting, he said.
TASB/Direct Energy Ceiling Rate
Mr. Sherrod recommended to board members that they accept the Direct Energy PowerBuy Rate at or below $0.03831 per kWh.
This would be the first interlocal agreement through the Texas Association of School Boards for Energy Cooperative. The committee of District members is CFO Tim Sherrod, Director of Finance Denise Brown, Director of Purchasing Alicia Woodard, Director of Operations Brady Woolsey, Director of Maintenance Chris Fain, and Energy Management’s Alvin Dorsman.
The new energy rate will replace the current TXU Energy rate of $0.03846 per kWh that began in April 2015 for a three-year period.
The purpose of using the Energy Cooperative is to get a lower rate than is possible by shopping as a single District. Already, the possible savings is apparent, said Mr. Sherrod. Recent energy quotes from TXU have been considerably higher, he said.
Accelerated Instruction Waiver
In a 6-0 vote, board members approved a three-year waiver to the Texas Education Agency that will allow WFISD to offer accelerated instruction at the beginning of the school year instead of after the third administration of the 5th and 8th grade STAAR Reading and Math tests.
Students who still need remedial help after the third administration of the test will already have participated in summer school prior to the June 17 test, and it is difficult to bring them back for additional help, said Debbie Dipprey, director of secondary curriculum.
She believed it would be more helpful to promote the student, then catch up with him or her the following fall and give remedial attention then.
The three-year waiver allows school districts to adjust the timeline to provide accelerated instruction and give it during the first six weeks of the school year.
According to the current schedule, the first administration of the STAAR tests are April 10 (with results coming on April 30); the second administration is the week of May 14 (with results coming in on May 25); and the third administration is on June 17 (with results coming in on July 17).
TEA Waiver Application Regarding Staff Development
In a 6-0 vote, board members unanimously approved a waiver that allows the District to reduce its instructional days in the 2018-2019 school year to include four days of staff development for educators.
TEA’s new rule is that a waiver must be approved first before a calendar can be approved. The District may only require 2,100 minutes (four days) for staff development in a calendar year. WFISD is asking for 1,840 minutes for all staff. The waiver is good for only one school year, the 2018-2019 year.
WFISD already has four to five days of added instruction built into its calendar as a “safety net,” said Ms. Patterson. In future years, districts will be required to show agendas for staff development trainings, she said. The trend is to require more from school districts, making them justify the minutes they use for training.
Good staff development is continuous, not just dished out at one time of the year, said Mr. Kuhrt.
2018-2019 WFISD School Calendar Adoption
Fifty-one committee members crafted the 2018-2019 WFISD School Calendar, which board members saw in Tuesday’s Feb. 13 Special Session.
The calendar eliminates several of last year’s early release days, which created inconveniences for parents, said Ms. Patterson.
The calendar features 172 student instruction days and four staff development days from August 16, 2018 through May 23, 2019. There are five more staff development days from August 9 through August 15, 2018. The school start date is Thursday, August 16. The last day of school is Friday, May 24. Graduation is May 25.
Students will have a Thanksgiving break from Nov. 19-23 and a Christmas break from Dec. 24, 2018-Jan. 4, 2019.
The calendar has been reviewed by central office administrators, curriculum specialists, campus principals, teachers, parents, community members and business representatives. The District Advisory Committee also looked over the calendar and did not present any new input.
Board members will vote on the calendar in the Feb. 19 board meeting.
Commencement Activities Resolution
In a 6-0 vote, board members unanimously adopted a resolution to partially suspend FMH (LOCAL) requirements immediately so to include students in commencement activities and ceremonies, even if they have not yet passed all state and local graduation requirements.
Board members agreed that this situation is far from ideal. But it deals with the real situation faced by many students and their families. They face ambiguity about their graduation plans when the state schedules late-in-the-year tests and does not report pass-or-fail news until one day before graduation.
With this waiver, students would be allowed to participate in graduation if they have completed all local work but only need to meet the state-mandated assessments. They are then required to do more remedial work after they “graduate.”
In WFISD, students are struggling to pass the End of Course English 1 and 2 state-mandated tests, said Mrs. Dipprey. The 2017-2018 school year was the first year that WFISD passed a waiver like this one, allowing students to participate in commencement without passing all five EOC tests. As a result of the waiver, more students failed that final EOC test and took advantage of walking the stage without it.
However, all but three students (one at each high school) did extra work after their graduation and returned as 5th-year seniors. “Each made a good faith effort,” said Mrs. Dipprey.
Board members worried aloud that they might be feeding bad behavior by passing the waiver, yet students’ hard work after-the-fact encouraged them to vote for it again.
In a 6-0 vote, board members reviewed and passed policy FDB EXHIBIT, which regulates transfers within the District.
WFISD has provided transportation to and from school for students who choose to transfer from their home campus to another campus, and particularly for students who choose to participate in the International Baccalaureate program. But for the past three years, District policy has included the wording that such busing is temporary.
WFISD is now facing new transportation challenges, said Mr. Kuhrt, including the need to give bus drivers a raise in wages. Though bus drivers have enough work that they can put in 40 hours a week, they are paid at a rate that is $2 per hour less than competing districts and in one case $4.50 per hour less.
Two WFISD schools – Barwise Middle School and McNiel Middle School – are precariously close to their operating and maximum enrollment totals, necessitating raising both numbers at the two schools. Such high enrollments put a cap on the possibilities of transfers and the need for such busing, since the schools no longer have room for extra students who do not live in their home district.
“I think the correct path is to end transportation,” said Board President Dale Harvey after a lengthy discussion.
Board member Elizabeth Yeager asked to see the current policy that has mentioned that busing benefits are temporary and to also see the letter that goes home to parents on that topic.
With this vote, board members raised the recommended enrollment at two schools, beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, as follows:
- Barwise: Operating enrollment raised from 1,170 to 1,200; Maximum enrollment raised from 1,195 to 1,225
- McNiel: Operating enrollment raised from 1,170 to 1,275; Maximum enrollment raised from 1,195 to 1,300
Policy Update 109
Debby Patterson, executive director of school administration, presented Policy Update 109, “a huge update!” she said, to board members.
The Update encompasses changes in law from the 85th Legislative Session that have an immediate effort on management of WFISD.
The District is guided in such changes by an instruction sheet from the Texas Association of School Boards and its localized policy manual update 109.
Cyndy Kohl, director of human resources, reported nine professional retirements, two clerical retirements, eight professional letters of resignation, and two clerical resignations.
In a 6-0 vote, board members approved the certified and non-certified applicant pools. Board members hired one teacher with four years of experience for Zundy Elementary and one At-Risk Coordinator for Hirschi High School, an educator who is coming to the job with two years of experience.