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New Budget Takes Center Stage

New Budget Takes Center Stage
Changes made to extra-duty stipends
  
In a special session July 12, WFISD board members addressed many back-to-school items, starting with the 2016-2017 budget.
 
A preliminary budget draft for the new fiscal year that starts Sept. 1 shows the district will have a General Operating Budget deficit of $3.7 million. But a major portion of that amount -- $3.4 million - is the carry-forward expense of maintenance projects that were scheduled for 2015-2016 but won't be completed and paid for until 2016-2017, according to Ms. Jan Arrington, WFISD chief financial officer.
 
The projects awaiting completion include roofing projects, drainage projects and switch gear electrical projects, she said.
 
Since the first budget draft presented earlier in the summer, the district has also incurred $280,000 in additional staffing changes and additions, said Ms. Arrington. The district hired one new central office position, three elementary interventionists, and one elementary counselor.
 
Under Function 41, the district will also consider three "pending" items: $100,000 set-aside for additional maintenance projects, $400,000 for bus fleet replacement, and $40,000 to expand the district's advertising.
 
The district also added 39 "FTEs," education lingo for full-time employees, in its art, band, special education, and CTE programs. "Because of the transition over to CTE and reducing other electives, there will be transition in staffing," said Mike Kuhrt, WFISD superintendent.
 
He assured board members that the $280,000 allocated to staffing additions was "not a bad planning number" and a number that could go away with careful budgeting of other items.
 
Board members underscored the importance of setting aside money for unexpected expenses. "A plan to set aside money will ultimately save us money. Where do you make that balance? You've got to have a plan of management," said board member Dale Harvey.
 
However, some projects are so big that only maintenance tax notes or a bond can pay for them, said Mr. Kuhrt.
 
The district is still estimating its revenue projections because no one knows exactly what enrollment will be this fall or what needs the district will ultimately have for personnel, said Mr. Kuhrt.
 
WFISD still has the lowest tax rate of seven peer districts, said Ms. Arrington. Her hand-out showed the WFISD tax rate of $1.23 compared to the tax rates of Bryan ISD ($1.34), Burkburnett ($1.31), Burleson, ($1.54), City View ($1.42), Crowley ($1.65), Decatur ($1.29), and Duncanville ($1.529).
 
Board members asked to reinstate at least one of a couple budget meetings that had been canceled so they could go line by line through the budget and ask questions.
 
The district's fund balance at the beginning of the 2015-2016 fiscal year was $24.4 million. Ms. Arrington projected it will drop to $20.1 million by Aug. 31, 2017.
 
"What (size) General Fund Balance are you comfortable with?" asked board member Elizabeth Yeager.
 
"Two and a half to three months," said Ms. Arrington.
 
"Twenty million-ish?" asked Ms. Yeager.
 
"Twenty million is about right," said Ms. Arrington. "Over $20 million is really good."
 
"So we're there, which is good," said Ms. Yeager.
 
Changes to Extra Duty Stipends
Ms. Arrington gave board members an updated list of 2016-2017 Extra Duty Stipends that will take effect with the new school year.
 
Several are new. The following stipends were added to academics:
  • Elementary After School Clubs (3 programs per campus)
  • Secondary TAME Programs (2 sponsors per campus)
  • UIL Coordinator for Elementary (1 per campus)
  • UIL Coordinator for Middle School (2 per campus)
One stipend was added to Performing Arts: 
  • MS Assistant Band Director (a new position for 2016-2017)
One set of stipends was deleted:
  • Campus PIE Coordinators (pending a funding source)
"How do you determine the amount of the stipend?" asked board member Bill Franklin.
 
These are the same stipends recommended to the district by a hired consultant from the Texas Association of School Boards who evaluated the district's stipends last year. "These are exactly what she proposed," said Human Resources Director Denise Williams.
 
Stipends range from $550 for a scouting stipend to $9,700 for the athletic training head high school coach.
 
Budget Amendments for June 2016
In a 5-0 vote, board members passed Ms. Arrington's recommended budget amendments that resulted in a net decrease of $77,600 to the fund balance.
 
The amendment increased revenue by $121,400 and increased expenditures by $199,000, creating the $77,600 decrease. Also included: a $5,000 increase to revenue and a related $5,000 increase to expenditures, which covered the fiscal contributions received for the 2016 Administrative Retreat.
 
The amendment also included two other items:
  • A revenue increase of $116,400 to reflect estimated actual interest earnings that the district collected
  • An expenditure increase of $194,000 to amend the budget to reflect engineering fees for turf/track projects.
There were no proposed increases or decreases to the Child Nutrition or Debt Service Fund budgets.
 
Temporary staffing
Ms. Arrington recommended that board members award the District's bid for temporary personnel services to MyStaf of Wichita Falls for a total fee of 1.33 percent for clerical work and 1.37 percent for food service. The service is responsible for employee background checks and fingerprinting.
 
Out of seven such vendors in Wichita Falls, only MyStaf responded to the district's request for a bid for services.
 
Last year, the district spent $117,040 for services, which included athletic gate workers. This year, the district proposed a different set-up that would hire athletic gate workers directly and reduce the cost to the district, since most athletic gate workers are District employees.
 
Turf cleaning
Once a year, the WFISD synthetic turf at Memorial Stadium will need deep cleaning to keep it soft and dirt-free. Ms. Arrington recommended paying Champion Track and Turf Repair of Ft. Worth, Texas, $4,500 for deep cleaning and $500 for G-Max Testing.
 
The deep cleaning requires large machinery to suck up the turf and debris that settles at the base of the field and redeposit the turf pellets. The cleaning agent also kills all bacteria present in the artificial turf.
 
The G-Max Testing measures the softness of the pellets after the cleaning. "The lower the score, the better the turf," said WFISD Athletic Director Scot Hafley.
 
Tennis Courts updates
Ms. Arrington asked board members to accept her recommendation to award a contract to Hellas Construction from Austin, Texas, to remove asphalt and resurface the tennis courts at Hirschi High School and McNiel Middle School for $149,720.
 
The process will begin at Hirschi tennis courts with the removal of the asphalt covering. Hellas will provide an estimate of repairs needed at Hirschi before resurfacing continues, said Ms. Arrington.
 
"Are we expecting problems?" asked Ms. Yeager.
 
A 2009 repair on the asphalt was "more of a paint job," said Maintenance Director Janet Powell. "They should have done more but it wasn't done." Now, if the concrete can be repaired, the repairs will be done; if not, the base will be re-laid, she said.
 
The budget for the project is $225,000.
 
As part of the Hirschi project, WFISD will share costs to repair the parking lot. It was damaged during the Hirschi track/turf project.
 
Food Service Chips
The District has recommended spending $146,091 to Sysco West Texas of Lubbock to purchase its chips and snacks for the upcoming school year.
 
Properties declared 'surplus'
In a 5-0 vote, board members agreed to declare two properties - the former Alamo Elementary School (minus its gym and parking lot) on Tenth Street and the former disciplinary facility Holland School at 205 Jalonik Street - as surplus properties according to the Public Education Code Section 11.154.
 
The declaration is the legal prerequisite to either selling the properties or demolishing them.
 
Biggs and Mathews are platting both properties. The cost to replatt Holland, which has three separate deeds to be merged into one deed, is $1,100. The cost to replatt Alamo to isolate the gym and parking, which will remain property of WFISD, is $1,700.
 
Any funds received by the sale of these buildings will be channeled to the General Fund.
 
Overseeing WFISD investments
Ms. Arrington told board members that it is prudent to annually review, revise and adopt the District's Investment Policy. She provided board members with an annual review and list of qualified brokers authorized to engage in investment transactions with the District.
 
The investment policy, annual investment report, and list of providers were offered for information only.
 
Providing transparency in charitable contributions
WFISD has a new plan to catalog all its donations in a report that will go to board members. "You're accepting on behalf of the district," said Ms. Arrington. She provided two forms for the Charitable Contribution Acknowledgement.
 
The district will start by accepting the charitable contribution from the Rider Booster Club to WFISD in care of the Rider High School Band Dept. The Rider Booster Club donated two trailers: a 2016 Lark UT and a 1985 Kentucky Trailer. The charitable contributions are considered non-monetary items valued at $11,070.
 
Applicant pool, TASB rep approved
In a 5-0 vote, board members approved 20 hires. 
 
They also approved, by a vote of 5-0, the nomination of Mr. Lanny Evans to the Region 9 TASB Board of Directors to represent Region 9. The position is currently held by WFISD Board Member Bob Payton.