Board approves GISD budget
by PHILLIP WILLIAMS
Aug 25, 2013 | 1373 views | 0 0 comments | 35 35 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With three of its seven members absent, the Gilmer School Board on Monday night approved a $18.3 million budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year, then was scheduled to meet Thursday night (Aug. 22) in special session to possibly call a Nov. 5 bond election.

The Mirror was informed by GISD on Wednesday of the special session, which was scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday. Details will appear in next Wednesday’s edition.

On Monday, the board approved the $18,368,182 budget, which includes a three percent pay raise for everyone on GISD’s payroll. At an earlier meeting, the board had set the tax rate for the coming year at the current rate of $1.18 1/2 cents per $100 valuation.

The budget, recommended by School Supt. Rick Albritton, is $888,817 below the current $19,256,999 one for 2012-13, according to GISD, and takes effect Oct. 1.

Albritton said the school reduced funding for supplies and travel. However, the budget also includes some new personnel since the state restored some of the aid to GISD it cut about two years ago.

During a brief public hearing on the proposed budget, Albritton said that reduction led to cutting the school district’s staff by about 38 persons two years ago. In the new budget, he said, the district is adding two teachers for restoring the Elementary School art program, and also adding remedial personnel.

In addition, the budget increases funding for the mentoring program, he said.

“We’re gonna have a deficit budget,” said Albritton, who said projected revenue is about $470,000 short of budgeted expenses. The school lost $200,000 in federal aid due to the federal sequester legislation, he added, expressing hope that federal officials will “counter” that and that GISD can get the funding back.

In addition, the school will receive about $205,000 in additional state aid if GISD voters approve a proposal in a Sept. 14 special election for rearranging the way ad valorem tax revenue is used, the superintendent said.

The district’s fund balance will remain $5 million, Albritton added.

Board members Mike Tackett, Ken Southwell, Gloria King, and Todd Tefteller voted for the new budget. Board President Jeff Rash was out of town, Trustee Mark Skinner was ill, and Trustee Diedra Camp was vacationing, Albritton said.

In other business Monday, the board heard Albritton report on the state’s finding under its District Accountability Ratings that Gilmer ISD had a “very good” rating.

As detailed in last Saturday’s Mirror, the school met the state standard at all four campuses and for the district as a whole.

Noting the six “distinctions” GISD received from the state at its various campuses, a designation which means the campus is in the top 25 percent of its group, Albritton boasted to the board, “I would say (we are) in an elite group. . .When you compare us to other people like us, we are near the top.”

“Our teachers teach and do a very good job,” he added, saying GISD was “one of very few schools in East Texas that got six distinctions overall.”

In other action Monday, the board heard its delinquent tax attorney, John Bolster of the Linebarger, Goggan, Blair and Sampson law firm, report that collection efforts resulted in the school receiving “more taxes than you actually billed” for the 2011 year.

The tax levy was slightly more than $10 million, but collections totaled $10,268,000, he said.

For now, the amount of delinquent taxes owed has stabilized at about $1.5 million, and the firm will work on reducing that, Bolster said. While there have been problems in the Glenwood Acres subdivision, he said, many foreclosed properties there have been sold.

The law firm also currently has about $500,000 in pending tax lawsuits, and will file additional litigation before year’s end, Bolster added.

At his urging, the board approved a resolution which turns over delinquent taxes on tangible business property to his firm each year in April instead of July, thus imposing an additonal penalty. Bolster said the action would affect business inventory, business trucks, and mobile homes.

Also Monday night, the board heard parent Jennifer Dean, a member of the School Health Advisory Committee, report on its activity.

She said that among other things, the committee has dealt with “food allergy awareness” so the district can protect children with such allergies . The committee, headed by Intermediate School Principal Dr. Bobby Rice, also reviewed and recommended the sex education program for grades 6-12, she said.

The group has sponsroed a 5k run, which drew about 200 participants, and its future goals include health fairs and health classes for grades K-12, Ms. Dean said.

Albritton noted the school cannot allow children to enroll who are not up to date on vaccine requirements, unless they have not been vaccinated for religious reasons.

Also Monday night, the board declined to endorse either of two candidates for a spot on the Texas Assn. of School Board’s Board of Directors. Albritton praised both.

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