Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress
Jacksonville ISD will hold an Aug. 26 public hearing to discuss the 2013-2014 proposed budget.
The largest portion of the $35,427,428 proposed balanced budget is earmarked for employee salaries.
“Normally, that is a district's largest expense,” said Dr. Joe Wardell, JISD superintendent. “We employ approximately 900 employees, who represent a wide mix – (roughly half are) teachers, and then we have our bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers, just different personnel who all play an important role in what we do.
Board members are proposing an increase of $1,000 per step for the Teacher's Pay Scale, with all teachers, librarians and RNs to advance one step on the JISD Teacher's Salary Schedule.
“Our teachers will get a little bit over a $1,600 raise” with passage of the budget, Wardell said.
Remaining professional staff will receive a 3 percent increase on the mid-point of their pay range, while all other staff is to receive a 4 percent increase on the mid-point of their pay range, according to the district.
A $2,681,950 food service budget and a $4,277,557 debt service budget round out the proposal.
Following the 6:30 p.m. hearing at the district's new administration building, located on the former Lon Morris College campus at 800 College Ave, board members will convene in a regular session.
While the tax rate remains the same at $1.32 per $100 property valuation, language required by law states that rate is being “raised.”
“The rate has stayed the same (over the past few years), but the taxable property value – which is not controlled by the district, but (established) by the county appraisal district – within our district went up a little bit,” he explained. “We're generating .67 percent more revenue this year compared to last year (and) because of this, we are required to say that we're 'raising the property tax rate,' when in fact, the rate itself isn't changing at all.”
According to district data, the average home in the Jacksonville school district is valued at $87,894 during the 2013-2014 school year. Taxes on this property would amount to $962.20, Wardell said. “The main thing to note is that the average (property) value in Jacksonville went down, but the rates stayed same, so actually, the owner of this average home is paying about $10.42 less than last year.”
The proposed $1.32 tax rate is comprised of a $1.04 Maintenance and Operations tax rate and a Sinking Tax rate of 28 cents.
During Monday's meeting, board members also will consider a proposal calling for a $22,785,000 bond election on Nov. 5. Funds will be used for a new campus at West Side Elementary, and to add eight classrooms and a band hall at the Nichols Intermediate campus. The old band hall will then be repurposed as additional classroom space and storage.
Polling sites and times for early and regular voting also will be set during Monday's meeting.
Fred Douglass was constructed in 1982, while Nichols was built in 2000, Wardell said, and “it's been quite awhile since (their) facilities have been addressed,” so a citizen-based district facility committee recommended work as part of a short-term plan.
“They came up with a plan (in 2010) to address (needs), and now time to look at next step,” he said. “This would put is into very good shape as far as district facilities (to date): We've been able to eliminate 12 portables so far from our elementary campuses, and we're hoping to eliminate four to six off the high school campus, once school starts” thanks to a 2010 bond election that called for work at the high school campus.
About 29 percent of district revenue is generated by taxes, with approximately 70 percent coming from the state. Miscellaneous local and federal revenues round out the figures, the superintendent said.