Proposed budget includes raises

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, August 4, 2018
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All Decatur ISD employees could be getting a raise this coming school year.

In the first look at the 2018-19 fiscal year budget Monday, Decatur ISD trustees were presented a plan to provide a general pay increase of $1,775 for all teachers, librarians and nurses and raise from 3 percent of the midpoint for all other pay grades. The raises would add approximately $600,000 to the budget.

“We’re staying competitive, and that’s important so we don’t lose ground,” said Superintendent Judi Whitis. “Our No. 1 goal is to have the most talented staff to work with our kiddos every single day. We want to stay in the ballgame with our neighbors and market value and still be mindful of taxpayer dollars.”

The budget proposal included a starting salary for teachers of $47,000 – a $2,000 increase from last year.

The district plans to increase the medical insurance contribution to $366. It will also provide the MDLive telemedicine benefit to all employees, which will cost $24,500.

In addition to the pay hikes, the district added 19 jobs. The district is expecting an increase of $1.431 million in instruction expense to $16.779 million. School leadership is also up $319,951 to $2.108 million.

The total projected general fund expenses are $29.916 million. The district will pay another $5.711 million for debt service.

Decatur ISD anticipates a $4.678 million surplus in the general fund based on increased property values and growth in enrollment, bringing in $32.195 million. The district figures to collect $22.971 million off its $1.04 tax rate for maintenance and operations.

In the certified values released last week, the district’s tax roll grew 16.7 percent to $2.303 billion.

Decatur ISD Deputy Superintendent Cindy Tatum suggested the district cut the debt service tax rate with the increase in property values. The district is currently proposing a 3.5-cent decrease to 26.5 cents to bring the total tax rate to $1.305.

Off the 26.5-cent debt service rate, the district would generate $5.8 million in revenue. The district’s bond payment this year is $5.711 million.

“You have some options to go down between 3 and 4 cents,” Tatum said. “If we go down 3 cents, you’re looking at adding $128,000 to fund balance for the 18-19 school year. If you go down 3.5 cents, you’re looking at $25,000. If you go down 3.75 cents, you’re looking at a loss of $26,000. Keep in mind you have a fund balance in debt service of about $2.3 million. That can only be spent on bond payments. If you do choose to go into a loss situation this year, you do have plenty of money in there.”

Tatum told the board the district’s debt service payment will increase in the next five years to $6.485 million. In 2022-23, she said the district’s new principle payment kicks in from the refinancing two years ago when property values dropped $450 million.

School Board President Cheri Boyd said she visited with Tatum prior to the meeting and felt comfortable with the recommendations.

“I think she does a good job recommending where we need to be,” Boyd said.

A public hearing on the tax rate is Aug. 27 at the DISD central administration building.

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