Board lays groundwork for next budget

By Erika Pedroza | Published Saturday, January 19, 2013

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The Northwest School Board got a jumpstart on “budget season” at Monday night’s meeting. Despite being only halfway through this fiscal year, district officials are already planning for the 2013-2014 budget.

As a first step, board members reviewed the budget calendar Monday night, as outlined by the district’s chief financial officer Jon Graswich, and will likely approve it at the next meeting, Thursday, Jan. 31. The Thursday-night meeting was moved from its regular day, the fourth Monday, due to board training.

At that meeting, the board will also complete the budget planning process by reviewing the five-year financial forecast, which drives the budget’s revenue, Graswich said. They will also distribute budget packages, which will be revised and reviewed through the spring.

“The budget is really just a bunch of numbers,” Graswich said. “It starts with assessing each campus, figuring out what needs to be done to improve test scores, better prepare our students and staff and the very, very last thing that should be done is setting numbers. Campus improvement plans and strategic plans are what should drive the budget.”

Budget updates and workshops will begin next month and continue through May, and the adoption process begins in June, when the district receives estimated property values from the appraisal districts of the three counties NISD spans – Wise, Denton and Tarrant. After the required public hearings, the board will approve the budget and set the tax rate.

Guiding the board and district officials through the process will be the budget parameters, which were also discussed Monday. Board members discussed retaining the guidelines of past years, which include devising a budget that:

  • prioritizes allocation of resources to the classroom.
  • maintains current staffing rations.
  • focuses on the district’s vision and is guided by the strategic plan.

“These budget parameters proved invaluable to us … They made it really clear to say, ‘this is not supporting the vision or the goals specifically for this year. It falls outside a budgeted item’,” Superintendent Karen Rue said.

In other news, the board also:

  • signed two resolutions – one urging legislators to reject all attempts to divert public dollars away from public education through vouchers, taxpayer savings grants and tax credits; another that defers the 15 percent provision, which requires the performance on an end-of-course assessment count as 15 percent of a student’s final grade.
  • extended an agreement with Templeton Demographics for services such as a 10-year enrollment forecast, new housing research, custom mapping and long-range forecasts. The cost is $30,500 for next year’s services.
  • heard the Academic Excellence Indicator System (which includes graduation, SAT/ACT/TAKS performance rates, drug/alcohol/violence incident numbers, etc.) monthly construction, November financials and annual (distributed as marketing material on the district) reports.

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