RUSK – A newly adopted $20,397,824 budget will provide raises for all Rusk ISD employees, and “this year, especially for the teaching staff, (it) is probably the largest increase ever approved,” said Superintendent Grey Burton.

“We are extremely excited to provide this type of increase for the staff. Historically in the 'school business' you hear the term 'cost of living' increase or something to that effect when describing employee raises,” he said. “We decided this year, with the additional funds being allocated from the state, to make a substantial investment in our staff. We want our folks to be able to see the difference in their paycheck. When people receive a five to eight or ten thousand dollar increase they will definitely see it.”

The board voted unanimously to adopt the budget, which is an increase of 13.56 percent of the previous year's budget of $17,961,720.

The new budget will be funded in part by a $1.08 property tax rate that was also adopted during an Aug. 26 special meeting. Board president Britt Patterson was not present for the meeting.

Texas House Bill 3, implemented earlier during the summer, provides salary increases for school district employees. Between their action and an increase in assessed property values in Cherokee County, the Rusk school district was able to raise salaries for its employees, he said.

The $1.0825 tax rate – comprised of an M&O rate of 97 cents and an I&S rate of 11.25 cents – is assessed per $100 property valuation. The M&O rate is “seven cents lower than the previous year due to the state compression of the M&O tax,” Burton said.

In other action, trustees:

• Approved a budget amendment for 2018-19. “We received more revenue through interest than we had anticipated. We also received a larger reimbursement from SHARS. We adjusted our expenditures accordingly. It’s routine, end of the year 'clean up' for the budget,” Burton said.

• Approved a memorandum of understanding with TJC for dual credit/college prep courses. This “allows them to experience the rigor of college course work and how it compares to high school work. It’s great for the students to get the experience on a smaller scale and the tuition is tremendously less expensive,” he said, adding that approximately 10 to 15 percent of RHS students participate in the programs. “One of our academic goals is to increase participation.”

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