Activities This Week

by Coy Holcombe.  

Congratulations to the varsity volleyball team on their victory last night against Kemp. The win pushed their record to 3-1 in district. Our JV volleyball girls posted a win last night also.

Although a short week, this week is packed with activities. Tonight is report card pick-up night at the Middle School. The report card pick-up will start at 3:00 PM and go until 6:00 PM. The other campuses will be sending report cards home on Thursday. Also, our intramural soccer league kicks off today at 3:30. Come out and watch our 5th and 6th graders have a great time. The games will be played on the Intermediate playground fields.

Our Middle School and JV football teams will be in action on Thursday. The Middle School teams will be traveling to Mineola. The JV team will be hosting Mineola at Bulldog Stadium starting at 6:00.

On Friday, the Primary School and the Middle School will be having their six weeks awards assemblies. Also on Friday, the volleyball team resumes district play against Mineola. The games will be at Mineola. The varsity football team will play their first district game on Friday at Mineola. I encourage everyone to make the trip to Mineola on Friday to support our young ladies and young men. Also, if you come to the football game on Friday, you will have the chance to see our varsity cheerleaders (which is the best cheerleading team in the area) perform and you will get to see the "Rhythm Machine on 316" at halftime.

On Saturday, our Mighty Bulldog Marching Band will be competing at the Cedar Creek Marching Festival in Mabank. The band is tuning up their halftime show for the UIL competition to be held in Mesquite on October 15.

Please make plans to attend and be a part of as many activities as possible this week.   

Flex Days Successful

by Stan Sowers.  

Eustace High School had our first two Flex Days this past Thursday and Friday.  Attendance was great as we served approximately half the student body with TAKS related material.  The day was split into 5 periods in which we focused on the four core subjects, as well as, test taking strategies, and vocabulary.  We appreciate the parents in supporting these all-important days and we especially appreciate the students for their attention and positive attitude.  

Bulldog Proud 

TEKS and TAKS

by Coy Holcombe.  

Each year, parents and students hear the terms TEKS and TAKS used in reference to educational issues. In some cases, the two can seem to mean the same thing; however, there is a world of difference between these two acronyms.

 

TEKS—Texas Essential Knowledge and Skill

 

TEKS are what students should learn during a grade level or course. Each grade level in grades K—8 have specific TEKS that teachers are expected to teach and that students are expected to master. In grades 9-12, each course has specific TEKS. At the lower grades, TEKS are written in concrete term. As the students progress from one grade level to the next, the TEKS become more abstract. Also, TEKS are written at a higher overall level than the old essential elements (the essential elements were developed in the mid 1980’s and were focused on basic skills).  Not all subjects or courses have the same number of TEKS. Most subjects and courses have a reasonable number of TEKS; however, some English courses and some social studies courses seem to have an excessive number of TEKS; so many, in fact, that teachers have a difficult time in covering all the required material. The TEKS in these two areas, English and social studies, are being examined at the state level to try to ease this excessiveness.

 

TAKS—Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills

 

The TAKS test is the state accountability test that is based on the TEKS. The TEKS are taught throughout the year. The TAKS test is an attempt to gauge whether the TEKS have been mastered by our students. The TAKS test is basically a sampling of some of the TEKS at each grade level and each subject area. Many times, you hear people talking about “teaching to the test”. Since our teachers are required to teach the TEKS and since the TAKS test is taken from the TEKS, by definition, our teachers cannot help but teach the test.  While this may sound like a negative situation, the alternative, testing the students on concepts they have not been taught, is even less appealing.

Property Taxes, Part 5

by Coy Holcombe.  

In this fifth and final entry on property taxes, I want to talk about where we get our information from regarding our property tax values. Until this year, EISD received all of the property value information from the Henderson County Appraisal District. Even though we had a few properties in Van Zandt County, all of the property information came through Henderson County.

Starting with this tax year, changes in the law governing appraisal districts now require information concerning property values to come from the appraisal district that actually contains the property. Now, EISD receives information on the properties in the district from both Henderson County and Van Zandt County. These numbers are then totaled together to give us the figures required to fill out the necessary forms from the comptroller’s office.

I want to state that both the Henderson County Appraisal District and the Van Zandt County Appraisal District have gone above and beyond in helping EISD understand and use the property values furnished from their offices. Without the help of these two appraisal districts, obtaining and entering the necessary information for calculating the required figures would be much more time consuming and complicated for the district.

I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Property Taxes, Part 4

by Coy Holcombe.  

Today, I wanted to review our tax rate history from the past several years. Below you will find a table that lists the district’s tax rates from 2000 to our current tax rate:

Tax Rate Comparisons 

 

M & O

I & S

Total

2000

 $  1.303

 $   0.062

 $  1.365

2001

 $    1.32

 $     0.07

 $    1.39

2002

 $    1.32

 $     0.07

 $    1.39

2003

 $    1.38

 $     0.01

 $    1.39

2004

 $    1.41

 $     0.06

 $    1.47

2005

 $    1.45

 $     0.22

 $    1.67

2006

$1.3257

$0.1918

$1.5175

2007

$1.04

$0.22804

$1.26804

2008

$1.04

$0.2180

$1.2580

A couple of notes about some of the tax rates listed above: in 2003, our I & S rate dropped to $.01. In order to maximize our state funding, our M & O rate needed to be increased; however, the board did not want to increase our overall tax rate. Therefore, the board voted to use fund balance in our I & S account to help pay for our bonds. This act served both purposes: it helped increase our state aid and it kept the overall tax rate constant at $1.39.

In 2005, there was a substantial increase in the I & S rate. This was the year that we sold the $9 million in voter approved bonds to help build additional classrooms and provide renovations at all campuses. These bond funds were also used to build the new practice gym, weight room, and dressing rooms at the Middle School. These funds will also be used to pay for the new transportation facility and pay for moving the maintenance department from their current location to the old transportation facility.

In 2007, there was a dramatic decrease in our M & O tax rate. This was the year that the legislature passed HB 1. This bill sought to provide tax relief by lowering M & O rates and increasing the overall amount of aid that the state provided. Also in 2007, you see a slight increase in the I & S rate. This increase was due to the selling of the additional $4 million in bonds for the new competition gym.

The district’s tax rate is set in August of each year. There is a public hearing to discuss the tax rate and overall budget for the upcoming school year. For the 08-09 school year, the board voted to approve an M & O tax rate of $1.04 and an I & S tax rate of $0.218 for an overall tax rate of $1.2580. This new tax rate represents a decrease of a little over a penny from last year’s rate.

If you have any questions concerning our tax rate, please do not hesitate to contact me at cholcombe@eustaceisd.net.

Property Taxes, Part 3

by Coy Holcombe.  

As we continue to look at property taxes, today I want to discuss the increase in taxable values that the district has experienced over the last several years. The table below details our certified taxable values from 2002 through this current tax year.

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Total

$271,652,498

$310,135,314

$339,486,401

$364,411,086

$410,312,622

$434,776,495

$481,961,754

Frozen

$22,527,968

$27,384,006

$35,036,283

$36,959,064

$45,066,364

$51,845,596

$56,473,798

Taxable

$249,124,530

$282,751,308

$304,450,118

$327,452,022

$365,246,258

$382,930,899

$425,487,956

As you can see, since 2002, there has been a tremendous increase in our taxable values. The row labeled “Total” is the total taxable value of all properties. The row labeled “Frozen” represents the properties in the district that have had their taxes frozen (the owners of the property have reached age 65 or there is some other circumstance that has caused their value to become frozen). The row labeled “Taxable” is the difference between the “Total” and the “Frozen” values.

In terms of percent, since 2002, our taxable values have gone up about 71%. Needless to say, this has impacted the tax bills of the property owners in our district. With the passage of HB 1, the legislature attempted to offset the rise in property values by setting limits on the tax rate; however, even with these adjusted tax rates, we are reaching the limits of property tax relief with the continued rise of property values.

Although it would seem that the district would benefit greatly from the increase in property values (from increased tax revenues), that increase is somewhat offset by how the state calculates its share of our funding. In the state funding formulas, there is an item called "Local Share". This amount is deducted from the state’s share of funding and is directly related to the amount of property value in a district. Basically, this is calculated by multiplying the preceding year’s certified values from the comptroller by $.0086. So, as you can imagine, as our property value goes up, our Local Share also increases. As our Local Share goes up, our state aid goes down. (Note: The calculations can get somewhat more involved than those stated here; however, this is the basic way that our state funding calculations are made).

The relationship between local property taxes and state aid is complicated. EISD strives to maintain the maximum state funding while keeping our property taxes to a minimum. If you have any questions concerning our property taxes or state funding, please email me at cholcombe@eustaceisd.net.

On a different note, congratulations to the varsity volleyball team on their victory last night against Canton. Our girls are now 2-0 in district play.