The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

July 25, 2013

WISD board talks budget; meets new technology director

By CHERIL VERNON
Palestine Herald-Press

PALESTINE — Westwood Independent School District Board of Trustees were introduced to the new technology director John Folmar during its regular July meeting Tuesday at the WISD Administrative Office.

Folmar, who was hired recently, has been working at Trinity Valley Community College for several years and previously served as technology director at LaPoynor ISD.

“I’m looking forward to being the technology director and I appreciate the opportunity that the board has given me,” Folmar said after being formally introduced to board of trustee members.

Also during the meeting, WISD Finance Director Tricia Wardell presented the latest estimates for revenues and expenses for the 2013-14 budget.

Because the school district is completing several construction projects during the fall semester, the district will spend a portion of its designated fund balance and the 2013-14 expenses will be significantly more than the 2013-14 revenues.

WISD Superintendent Dr. Ed Lyman said the $1.5 million difference in revenues/expenditures in the proposed budget will be taken out of the fund balance, which is currently setting around $10 million, set aside for facility upgrades and the 1:1 Technology Initiative for students.

In addition, WISD’s proposed budget will give a raise to teachers, make a Step 22 for teachers and offer a 3 percent raise to all other staff and school personnel.

“We are trying to reward service and excellent work and maintain a competitive advantage with an increase to salaries,” Lyman said.

Another reason for the proposed salaries increase is because of the rising cost of employee health insurance. Those on the Active Care 1 plan will see a 9 percent increase. Active Care 2 plan is going up 15 percent and Active Care 3 plan is going up 25 percent.

Other factors in the budget include the decreased amount of property taxes to be collected, going from $436,899,390 for the 2012-13 year to $427,304,430 for the 2013-14 school year.

While state funding is expected to be about $397,000 higher for the 2013-14 school year, the district is down 96 students, which also affects funding.

Westwood ISD plans to hold a public meeting on the budget and proposed tax rate at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 19. A special called board meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Aug. 19 in which the school board will adopt the budget and tax rate and approve the 2012-13 final budget amendments.

According to the budget planning calendar, the proposed budget summary will be posted on the district’s website on Aug. 3.

In other action, the board:

• HIRED the following under its “fast track” program: elementary, Kelly Crawford and Tom McLaughlin; high school, Sherry Doty, English/STAAR remediation and  Sherry Freeman, English.

• APPROVED the consent agenda, which included minutes of the regular board meeting on June 10 and special board meetings on June 24 and June 28; quarterly investment report; June tax collection report; and adoption of Policy Update 97.

• APPROVED the publication of notice for public hearings regarding budget and proposed tax-rate adoption related to the 2013-14 district operations.

• APPROVED the Anderson County Central Appraisal District Budget for 2013-14.

• REVISED district goals for 2013-14.

• HEARD board member reports from Texas Association of School Boards’ summer conference sessions and reviewed WISD’s teacher training calendar.