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Jacksonville ISD trustees adopted the proposed 2021-2022 budget, totaling over $57.1 million, along with the tax rate of $1.3184 per $100 valuation. Although the rate is lower than last year’s $1.3685, the total tax levy should result in a slight increase due to higher property values.

One resident, Mary Ann Green, did express an objection to the budget.

“There are a couple of things that really did bother me,” she said.

Her main concerns were with seven new positions and the three percent raises. She recognized the district was currently experiencing difficulty and acknowledged teachers worked hard, but noted the taxpayers were hurting as well.

Lindy Findley explained the budget was developed in response to conversations with leadership and taking into account legal teacher to student ratios.

“We’re not in a vacuum in a room doing this budget just without considering anything. We are taking the information the instructional people in this district are giving us, the staffing needs and that to develop the budget,” she said.

In a letter to the community, Superintendent Brad Steward wrote, “During the budget development process, principals, directors and district staff have provided extremely helpful input. WE have also used feedback from discussions throughout the year with employees, parents, students and others to develop the proposed budget. The budget we are presenting the community strongly reflects these efforts to seek and utilize meaningful input.”

Other action items approved included:

• Approval of budget amendment 21-03;

• Engagement of Pattillo Brown & Hill as external auditor’s for the 2020-2021 financial audit;

• The annual Region VII purchasing cooperative interlocal agreement and resolution;

• The list of purchasing cooperatives used by JISD to comply with federal and state purchasing law regulations; and

• The consent agenda, consisting of minutes of previous meetings and various financial reports.

Stewart led a discussion regarding the district’s COVID-19 pandemic status.

“I know for a fact that our health services department is overwhelmed...The things that are going on in campuses are stretching everyone very thin and we appreciate everything everyone is doing,” Stewart said.

JISD Police Chief Bill Avera also serves as the district’s emergency manager. He reported 550 COVID-19 tests had been performed from Aug. 8 through Aug. 30.

“One of the things we’re currently doing is working, as we did last spring, with our public health partners, both the County Health Department as well as UT Health East Texas and Christus Trinity Mother Francis, to make arrangements to offer or continue to co-sponsor or co-host vaccination drives.”

In an effort to be as transparent as possible, the district provides the number of COVID-19 cases on a Daily Dashboard on their website, jisd.org. On the home page, one can find COVID-19 Notifications where a link is provided to the Daily Dashboard, where COVID-19 cases are listed by staff and students per campus.

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