With a fund balance “in good shape,” Paradise School Board held off on a tax-rate election to fund a projected deficit in next year’s budget, as discussed at a regular meeting Thursday.
The meeting was postponed from Monday due to staff training in San Antonio.
Although there are a couple of months left in this fiscal year, a flow chart devised by Superintedent Monty Chapman showed the district to be in good standing.
Subtracting projected expenditures (based on a 15 percent increase on what was spent in those months last year) from anticipated income – including interest earnings on Texpool funds and certificates of deposit, state per cap money, foundation allotment, taxes and miscellanous funds, the board projects a fund balance of about $3.4 million at the end of this fiscal year, Aug. 31.
“That’s if we don’t have any unexpected expenses,” Chapman said. “But that’s up from the previous year when we ended with $2.6 million. Our fund balance is healthy.”
That amount could also, according to Chapman, help offset any deficit in the upcoming year’s budget instead of calling a tax-rate election (TRE).
“It would be nice to access that money,” Chapman said. “But I’m not sure that is the right thing to do.”
He points out the confusion that may come with the change in board election dates (see below).
“If we were to look at TRE, it would have to be done on the uniform election date in November,” he said. “If we called for a TRE and went up 2 cents on M and O (maintenance and operations) and went down 2 cents on bond payment bonds, it would net gain us about $105,000. But we would have to make sure to get that election passed to make sure we can count on that money anyway. And since we’re already dealing with a new election, I’m not sure.”
Instead, Chapman proposed pulling the money from fund balance.
“One option is to not do (a TRE),” he said. “We’d have a little bit of a deficit, somewhere around $100,000 for next year. We’ll just take that out of fund balance on the M and O side for next year. And after they have another session this coming spring (January through May), we’ll see what they’re going to do to the finance system. At that point, if they don’t help us or if they hurt us … we wouldn’t have any choice than to go to the voters. If they help us, we may not have to go to them at all. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
Chapman added that next year the board could call an election based on preliminary values.
When the Paradise City Council opted to move its election to the fall in response to Senate Bill 100, the board was forced to move its election also.
The bill adopted voting procedures necessary to implement the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act aimed at making the voting process easier and faster for military and overseas voters for primary and gubernatorial elections, affecting elections in even-numbered years.
According to Texas Education Code, school boards must have joint elections, whether it’s with the city or county. But with no other political subdivision to join, the board had to move its election.
The revised calendar is as follows:
- July 21-Aug. 20 – filing period
- Aug. 20 – last day to order general election
- Sept. 7-Oct. 30 – apply for mail-in ballots
- Oct. 9 – last day to register to vote
- Oct. 22-Nov. 2 – early voting
- Nov. 6 – uniform election date
In other news, the board:
- approved a budget amendement to reflect the selling and spending of $411,000 in bonds for the technology plan approved last month.
- renewed a contract with Wise County Shared Services Arrangement, formerly Wise County Special Education Cooperative. The name change reflects a potential change in services used by the district. For this year, services will be limited to special education but in the future could expand to transportation, technology, etc.
- hired Suzanne Taylor and Brooke Shepherd. Taylor will teach English and coach at the high school. Shepherd is to teach junior high science and coach at both the junior high and high school.