Property Taxes, Part 2

by Coy Holcombe.  

Yesterday, we talked about exemptions and how to calculate property taxes on a homestead. In our calculations, we used the figure $1.258/100 as our tax rate. This is the adopted tax rate for the 08-09 fiscal year. This tax rate is made up of two parts: the maintenance and operations (M & O) part and the interest and sinking (I & S) part. For 08-09 the M & O rate is $1.04/100 and the I & S rate is $0.218/100. These two components of the overall tax rate serve two completely different functions.

The maintenance and operation rate provides funds for the daily operations of the school district. The money generated through the M & O rate is used to pay for salaries, supplies, travel, and the various costs associated with the day to day operation of the district (such as utilities).  The amount of tax revenue generated under the M & O rate also earns the district additional state aid. This additional state aid is commonly referred to as Tier II funds. For the 08-09 school year, we are estimating that the district will earn approximately $770,000 in Tier II aid.

The interest and sinking portion of the tax rate is used to pay for the voter approved bonds of the district. Currently, the district is paying for three different bond packages: the bonds that were sold to build the Intermediate School, the bonds that were sold to do the recent renovations and additions at all campuses, and the bonds that were sold to build the new competition gym. At the start of the 08-09 school year, our unpaid principal balance for our bonds was $14,285,000. Currently, our total bond payment is slightly over $1,000,000. The district also receives some state aid to help pay for our bonds. We will receive approximately $133,000 from the state through the existing debt allotment (EDA). As with Tier II funds under M & O, the existing debt allotment can increase based on the tax effort of the district.

For 08-09, the board voted to use approximately $28,000 of fund balance from our I & S fund to help pay for our bond payments. This use of fund balance helped the district actually lower the I & S rate by a little more than a penny from last year (last year’s overall tax rate was $1.26804 compared to this year’s tax rate of $1.258).

While tax rates and state aid can seem fairly confusing at times, I want everyone to know where our taxes are going and how the system works. If you have any questions concerning tax rates or state aid, please do not hesitate to contact me at cholcombe@eustaceisd.net.

Property Taxes

by Coy Holcombe.  

Soon, the property owners in the district will start receiving their tax statements for the 2008-2009 school year. I would like to briefly go over the exemptions that may affect your tax bill and give an example of how your school property taxes are calculated.

First, all homesteads are granted a $15,000 exemption from the state. Further, EISD provides an optional 20% homestead exemption. This 20% optional exemption is deducted before the $15,000 exemption is deducted. EISD is one of the few districts in this area that still grants the optional homestead exemption.

To see how these exemptions work, let’s look at an example. Suppose we were paying taxes on our home that has a value of $100,000. Assuming that this property is declared a homestead, we would be entitled to two exemptions: the optional 20% homestead exemption and the $15,000 homestead exemption from the state. The exemptions would be calculated as follows:

20% Optional Exemption is taken first. $100,000 x 20% = $20,000. So the optional homestead exemption would deduct $20,000 from the taxable value of this home. $100,000 – $20,000 = $80,000.

Next, the state homestead exemption of $15,000 is deducted: $80,000 – $15,000 = $65,000. So the taxable value for school district taxes on this $100,000 home is $65,000.

To calculate the school property taxes owed on this $100,000 home, we would now do the following:

Take the taxable value after all exemptions: $65,000. Divide this amount by 100. This would give us 650. Multiply this figure by the district tax rate of $1.258: 650 x $1.258 = $817.70. So, a taxpayer in our district with a home valued at $100,000 would pay about $820.00 in school property taxes. Again, this example is assuming that the homeowner has declared this property to be their homestead. There are also other exemptions that may apply to certain individuals.

If EISD did not offer the optional 20% homestead exemption, the taxes on the above property would be approximately $1070.00 ($100,000 – $15,000 = $85,000 ÷100 x 1.258). If you have any questions concerning your property taxes, please contact Debbie Myers (425 – 5232 or dmyers@eustaceisd.net). Please do not hesitate to email me at cholcombe@eustaceisd.net with your questions or comments. I hope everyone has a fantastic week.

ParentConnection

by Coy Holcombe.  

The electronic grade book that the district uses, GradeSpeed, has a feature called ParentConnection that allows parents/guardians to monitor their children’s grade via the Internet. Attendance can also be monitored this way. In order to take advantage of these features, all you need is an Internet connection and an email address.

To enroll in ParentConnection, go to the district’s homepage, www.eustaceisd.net, and look on the left-hand side of the page for the “GradeSpeed Parent/Teacher Access” link. Click on this link. A “Sign in to GradeSpeed” page will appear with several choices. Click on the “Parent” link at the bottom.  The sign in screen will now appear. Click on the link at the bottom of the sign in box that is titled “Click here to sign up.”  An information screen will appear. At this screen, you are asked to provide a user name and a password. The user name can be anything that you like; however, it needs to be something that is easy to remember. Many people choose the first initial of their first name along with their entire last name. For example, Sam Jones might choose the user name sjones. You will also have to provide a password.  This password may be letters, numbers, or a combination of letters and numbers. The other information required at the top of this page is self-explanatory. In the middle of this page is a button that says “Add Email.” Click on this button to add an email address to your account. At the bottom of the page is a check box stating that you agree to the terms and conditions of using this service. Once all of the information is entered, click the “Submit” link at the bottom of the page. Your information will be submitted to the appropriate campus for review.

Once your information is reviewed and approved, you will receive an email stating that you can now log in to ParentConnection. On your initial log in, you will need to add your students to your account. To do this, click on the blue link titled “Add a student to my account.” A screen will appear and ask you to enter information for the student you wish to add. You will need to enter the student’s name, address, birthday, and campus. You will also have to enter the student’s ID number. If you are unsure of this number, please refer to that student’s report card. If you do not have a report card, you will need to contact the campus that student attends and ask for their ID number. At the bottom of the page, click the “Submit” button. The campus that your student attends will review this information and add your student to your account. The campus will also send you an email to let you know that your child has been added to your account. If you have more than one child, regardless of what campus they attend, simply follow the same procedure for adding that child. You do not have to have separate accounts for each child.

One of the best features of the ParentConnection program is the ability to set “triggers” for your children. Triggers will generate an email or text message if your child’s average in any case falls below an average that you have set. Triggers can also be used to monitor your child’s attendance. To set triggers, you must be logged into ParentConnection. On the left side of the page, click on the “Triggers” link.

You can access ParentConnection anytime to view your child’s current averages. The averages are clickable and will let you see all the grades that make up that average. I encourage all parents to take advantage of this informative tool.  

Videos on the Website

by Coy Holcombe.  

Last year, visitors to our homepage had an opportunity to view weekly video updates from the high school. There were also videos available of special events at other campuses. This year EISD is expanding its video content at all campuses. We are doing this for several reasons: first, it is important that our students know and learn how to use this technology. Second, this gives an opportunity for parents to view events that they may not have been able to attend. Third, it gives community members an opportunity to keep up with some of the events happening at EISD. Finally, as we expand our video library, we hope to be able to provide parents and students with an opportunity to review important presentations at a later time.

One of the major goals this year was the live broadcast of a Friday night football game over the Internet. Rusty Meyners, the district’s technology coordinator, has done an outstanding job in making this a reality. Rusty has also recruited high school students to help in this undertaking.

As this year progresses, EISD will be adding to its video library. Please visit the homepage and click on the television for a listing of available videos at each campus. 

Atomic Learning

by Coy Holcombe.  

If you have visited our homepage, you have seen the link for Atomic Learning (or AL for short). Atomic Learning has an entire library of videos devoted to technology applications and other technology topics. EISD has contracted with Atomic Learning to provide this library for all staff members, students, and community members. There is no charge to anyone to use this library.

You will need a log-in name and a password to get into the system. Although this library of videos is made available for all to use, contractual obligations prevent EISD from posting the log-in and password on the homepage. Instead, just send an email to AL@EustaceISD.net and the log-in and password will be emailed to you. Again, I want to emphasize that this is a service available not only to our faculty and students, but to community members as well.

I encourage you to take advantage of this vast resource. Once in the Atomic Learning website, you can search for specific topics or applications. Most of the topics have the lessons broken down into short segments. You can view all the lessons in order or pick and choose which topics you want to watch. If you have any questions concerning Atomic Learning, please email me at cholcombe@eustaceisd.net.

 

"How 'bout those Bulldogs"

by Stan Sowers.  

What a great week of festivities leading up to the homecoming game against Quitman.  I’d like to thank everyone involved.  We could not have pulled it off without the help of the booster club, cheerleaders, homecoming committee,  maintenance department, band, and even the Ag program.

And what a homecoming it was.  In front of a packed house, the Eustace Bulldogs regained the lead with just under 2 minutes remaining in the game and then let their defense secure the victory with a fumble recovery and an interception.  This brings their record for the season to 2 and 2.

I couldn’t be more proud of the students, the staff, and the volunteers that made this such a successful week.  My hope is that all bulldogs, young and old, felt as proud to be a part of Eustace ISD.   

Compensatory Funding

by Coy Holcombe.  

EISD receives about 59% of its funding from the state. The other 41% comes from local sources. The 59% from the state is made up of various programs. One of the programs is compensatory funding. Compensatory funding is based on the number of students with approved free and reduced lunch applications. Actually, the exact number is the average of the highest six months of approved applications from the previous federal fiscal year. So, right now, EISD is receiving compensatory funding based on the number of approved applications from October 2007 – September 2008. Currently, this number is about 1021.

As stated before, this 1021 is the average of the highest six months from the previous federal fiscal year. This number might increase somewhat based on the approved applications from September 2008; however, at this point it will not decrease any. 

To calculate our state compensatory funding, take the district’s compensatory number, 1021, and multiply it by our adjusted allotment. The adjusted allotment is the greater of several different allotments that are calculated by the state. For EISD, our adjusted allotment is $3,614. Multiplying these two numbers together gives us $3,689,894. However, at his point, the state is only funding 20% of this allotment. Now, take $3,689,894 and multiply it by 20% = $737,978. From this allotment, the state deducts an amount to help pay for the cost of state testing and other related expenses. For EISD, the state deducts about $62,000. So, that leaves EISD receiving about $676,000 in compensatory funding.

EISD uses its compensatory funding to pay for certain teachers’ salaries, certain paraprofessional salaries, tutorials, special programs, and supplies and materials. If you have any questions about our compensatory program, or any other program in EISD, please do not hesitate to contact me at cholcombe@eustaceisd.net.

Friday

by Coy Holcombe.  

What a fantastic Friday night! Everything got started about 2:30 with a parade and pep rally held at Bulldog Stadium. Special thanks goes out to the National Champion TVCC Cheerleading Squad for taking time out of their busy schedule to come over and participate in our pep rally.

After that, our varisty volleyball team got the evening started by posting another win. We had a tremendous crowd to see our Bulldogs win their homecoming game 41-32. Before the game, Brandy Hilliard was crowned homecoming queen for 2008. At halftime, everyone enjoyed the performance of the Bulldog Band. Also at halftime, there were several staff members recognized for their service to EISD. We have 8 staff members with 30 or more years of service to the district. These staff members include: Geraldine Carson – 30 years, Rob Tyner – 30 years, Janice Beasley – 30 years, Judy Wimberley – 31 years, Henry Carter – 32 years, Nettie Holland – 35 years, Chuck Powers – 40 years, and Elbert Kirk – 45 years.

Special thanks goes out to everyone who made this homecoming weekend a great success. The athletic booster club officers and members put in a lot of hours in preparation for homecoming. Our maintenance staff worked many hours making sure that our facilities were in top condition. Our EHS cheerleaders, which is the best cheerleading squad in this area, did a fantastic job with the signs and cheering on our Bulldogs.

Finally, I want to thank all the ex-students for making the trip home to Eustace. I hope each of you had a fantastic homecoming.

Community Effort

by Coy Holcombe.  

The original bonfire was built and in place on Wednesday. Our ag department worked hard getting the wood in place for this community event. Sometime late Wednesday night, this bonfire was vandalized and destroyed. However, school personnel and community members came to the rescue Thursday. I wish I had the names of everyone that contributed to rebuilding the bonfire. I do know that Jack Wallace, Haskell Cook, Donald Slay, and Doug Wendell spent a good portion of Thursday morning hauling and stacking wood. I know that Chance Sutton offered all the wood that we needed for the bonfire. I know that we had parents and students bring in pickup loads of wood yesterday afternoon. And, I know that the bonfire last night was a great success.

Thank you to all the people that came together to make this bonfire happen. I hope everyone has a great homecoming weekend!