Jacksonville Independent School District officials began the process of setting next school year’s budget at a special meeting prior to Monday’s Board of Trustees meeting, said Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Lindy Finley.

“The tax rate is expected to remain the same,” Finley said about the school’s $1.13 per $100 valuation tax rate following the meeting.

This includes $1.04 in maintenance and operations and $0.09 in interest and sinking.

She added next year’s budget cannot be anticipated at this time and more will be known at the July 19 budget workshop, also open to the public.

“We will have a better idea and get into the meat of the budget in July,” Finley said.

One thing which may or may not affect the bottom line is the increased valuations on preliminary taxable values.

“These are up by about $10 million,” Finley said.

In a presentation to the school board, Finley said the increased property values don’t matter to the school district.

She also said the school’s new interdistrict transfer policy, decided on during the Monday board meeting and which would allow students to transfer into the school district from out of the district on a case-by-case basis as space allows, will likely not affect the budget.

“We’re very conservative here,” Finley said. “For us to assume those kids would be enrolled is not how we develop our budget.”

Superintendent Dr. Joe Wardell said the first meeting in June was a preliminary time to introduce board members to different thoughts on the budget and give a feel for the start of the process.

He added there may be some potential for the new transfer policy to affect the budget.

“It allows us to accept transfers in areas where we have space,” Wardell said. “If there would be no added expenses we would gain that money.”

This money, he also said, comes at around $4,800 per student.

Wardell also said another thing affecting the budget is whether or not a teacher leaves and whether a teacher with more or less experience takes the teacher’s place. He said this is because teachers with more experience teaching are paid more than teachers with less experience.

The district’s budget for 2009-2010 was about $34,463,234.

Another budget workshop will be held July 19 at 5 p.m. in the school administration board room on Pine Street.

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