New Cafeteria Software

by Coy Holcombe.  

During the June Board Meeting, EISD Trustees voted to update the software that is used in our cafeterias. The current software is now several years old and is out dated. Only through the efforts of Robert Cook in our technology department have we been able to get by with using this software as long as we have.

The new software is from MCS Software out of Mandeville, Louisiana. It will offer parents options that just were not available with our old software. Parents will be able to utilize an electronic payment system (much like PaySchools) that will automatically update the account balance for students. Our old software was not capable of this automatic processing. With our old software, parents had to submit an order to PaySchools, PaySchools sent an email to me about the order, I forwarded the email to the appropriate campus, and then the cafeteria managers entered the amount in the system. The new software will automatically credit the appropriate account with the amount of the order.

Parents will not only be able to check balances on line, they will be able to see exactly what their children are eating in the cafeterias. While parents could check the balance in their accounts through our website, this again was the result of Robert Cook devising a program that actually made this possible. Our cafeteria managers had to export information each day in order for this to work correctly. Now, with our new program, all this will be handled within the program itself.

Parents will also be able to receive email reminders and notifications of low balance. These features will allow parents to monitor their children’s account without having to log in each day to do so.

The above points are improvements for parents and students. The new software also provides an upgrade for our food service program in terms of reports and record keeping. All in all, I believe that parents will be pleased with the new features available with the new software and I believe that the district will benefit from better reports and record keeping. More information about the online payment system will be provided in August.

Truth in Taxation, Part 3

by Coy Holcombe.  

Good Monday morning! I hope everyone had a great weekend. Last week, we started our discussion about truth in taxation. Today, I want to continue with a truth in taxation overview of the sequence of events that school districts must follow. The Truth in Taxation guidelines published by the state have very specific instructions on the order that items must be done. Overall, the following describes the order that a school district follows:

  • calculate the effective tax rate and rollback tax rate
  • decide how much revenue the district needs and calculate the rate required to raise that amount
  • concurrently post a budget summary on its website and publish a notice on the budget and proposed tax rate
  • hold a hearing on the budget and proposed tax rate
  • adopt a budget and then adopt the tax rate (there are provisions now that allow for the tax rate to be adopted before the budget – Eustace ISD will adopt a budget and then a tax rate)
  • administer a rollback election if the adopted rate exceeds the rollback rate (EISD will not have a rollback election) 

    (2010 Truth-in-Taxation Guide, p.3)

We will have several more discussion about truth in taxation as the steps above are completed.

Federal Funds Process

by Coy Holcombe.  

From our past discussions on school finance, we know that Eustace ISD basically receives funding from three sources: local taxes, state funds, and federal funds. We have discussed, and will continue to discuss, local and state funding in detail. We have had some discussion of federal funding, but not quite as extensive as local and state funding. Today, I want to talk about the process of applying for the major federal funding that EISD receives.

EISD receives (without taking into account and stimulus funds) two major funding sources from the federal government: Title I, Part A and Title II, Part A. In the past we have also received small amounts from other federal Title programs. However, for the 2010-2011 school year, those funds have been eliminated. 

We receive the majority of our federal money from Title I, Part A. For the 2010-2011 school year, we are scheduled to receive about $256,000 in Title I, Part A funds. The vast majority of this money will be spent on teacher salaries. We will spend a small portion of this money on professional development and testing materials. EISD also receives about $69,000 in Title II, Part A funds. Again, the vast majority of these funds are spend on teacher salaries. A small portion is spend on professional development. 

Before the advent of the Internet, districts had to apply for these funds by completing a application that was mailed to TEA. Now, the application is done electronically. Through a system called eGrants, districts complete and submit the application via the Internet. The application for our Title I and Title II funds is 38 pages long. On these pages, we have to describe how we are using the funds, how we involved parents, community members, and staff members in the plan for these funds, provide a budget summary of expected uses for these funds, and provide assurances that these funds will be used as intended. 

Once the application is completed, it is submitted to TEA where it is reviewed. Often we go into "negotiations" with a federal funds specialist from TEA. These negotiations are used to point out any potential discrepancies found in the application and to make sure that it is clear on how these funds will be used. Once the negotiations are complete, the application is accepted by TEA. 

To utilize the funds, the district has to make electronic requests to TEA. TEA reviews these requests, and if everything is in order, issues the funds to the district. If you have any questions regarding the federal funds that EISD receives, please do not hesitate to contact me at cholcombe@eustaceisd.net.

 

Board Meeting Last Night

by Coy Holcombe.  

Last night the EISD Board of Trustees held their regular monthly meeting. Action was taken on the following agenda items:

  • Approved financial reports as presented.
  • Approved a proposal from Hibbs-Hallmark for student accident insurance for the 2010-2011 school year.
  • Approved the adoption and purchase of Reasoning Mind for the 5th and 6th grade math curriculum for the 2010-2011 school year.
  • Approved the purchase of point of sale software for cafeterias from MCS Software.
  • Approved the district investment policy.
  • Approved the endorsement for Andra Self for the TASB Board of Directors
  • Accepted the resignations of the following employees: Kris Jones, Polly Shumate, Judy O’Casey, Rob Tyner, and Karen Walter.
  • Approved the employment of the following persons: Emily Blackshear, Stephen Hardy, Amanda Jones, Dianne Buchannan, Clare Bradburn, and Molly Taylor.
  • Approved the salaries of employees as amended.
  • Accepted the transfer of two students.
  • Adjourned.

The next regular board meeting will take place on July 20, 2010.

Board Meeting Tonight

by Coy Holcombe.  

The Eustace ISD Board of Trustees will hold their regular monthly meeting tonight. The meeting will start at 7:00 PM and will be held in the HS library. Below is a summary of the agenda items for tonight’s meeting:

  • Approve minutes of previous meetings.
  • Financial reports.
  • Committee reports
  • General reports
    • Preliminary budget for Van Zandt County Appraisal District for 2011.
    • Preliminary TAKS scores for EISD.
    • 2010-2011 Perkins Planning Amount
    • PaySchools report
    • Summer hours
    • Summer meal program
  • Consider proposals for student accident insurance for 2010-2011
  • Consider updates to student handbook, student code of conduct and local policy EIC (first reading).
  • Consider Reasoning Mind program for 5th and 6th math for the 2010-2011 school year.
  • Consider point of sale software for cafeterias.
  • Update on budget.
  • Review district investment policy.
  • Consider nominee for TASB Board of Directors.
  • Update on attendance and enrollment.
  • Closed Meeting
    • Personnel and Staffing
      • Accept Resignations
      • Employ Personnel
    • Employee’s Salaries
    • Student Transfers
  • Consider action on closed meeting items
  • Adjourn

I encourage everyone to attend tonight’s meeting. Tomorrow, I will have a recap of the actions taken during the meeting.

 

EISD Receives Energy Grant

by Coy Holcombe.  

Last month.we submitted a grant proposal to the Texas Comptroller’s State Energy Conservation Office. We received notification on Friday that EISD had been selected to receive this grant. The grant will provide funds to help replace several old air conditioning units in the district with new, energy efficient units. EISD will receive approximately $35,000 in grant funds. In return, the district will contribute about $10,000 in funds for this project. The grant will help replace units at the Intermediate School and the Primary School. Our goal is to have the units operational for the start of the 2010-2011 school year. I want to thank Jack Wallace, director of maintenance for the district, for his help in the specifications of this grant. 

Truth in Taxation, Part 2

by Coy Holcombe.  

Wow!! What a change in the weather! A few minutes ago, I checked a radar estimate of the amount of rain that had fallen in our area. We are in the 7-9 inches range.

Yesterday, we started talking about Truth in Taxation. Today, I want to continue and talk about a few of the definitions that are major components of Truth in Taxation. According to the 2010 Truth in Taxation guide:

After the appraisal district certifies appraised values, school districts take the first step toward adopting a tax rate by calculating the effective, effective maintenance and operations (M & O) and rollback tax rates. (p. 2)

We will look at the definition of these three tax rates:

Effective Rate

The effective tax rate is a calculated rate that would provide the school district with about the same amount of revenue it received in the year before, on properties taxed in both years. If property values rise, the effective rate will go down and vice versa. (p. 2)

Effective Maintenance and Operations Rate

The effective maintenance and operations rate is $1.50 or the 2005 adopted maintenance and operations rate if votes approved a rate higher that $1.50, times the compression rate of 0.6667. (p. 2)

Rollback Rate

The rollback rates is a calculated maximum rate allowed by law without voter approval. More specifically, it is the lesser of:

  • the effective maintenance and operations rate, plus 4 cents, plus the rates that is equal to the sum of any differences between the adopted tax rate and the rollback tax rate approved by the votes for 2006 and subsequent years, plus the current debt rate; or
  • the effective maintenance and operations rate, plus 4 cents, plus the current debt rate. (p. 2)

These three rates are the basis of EISD’s rate calculations. Before any of these calculations can be made, we must have the certified values from our appraisal districts. The appraisal districts provide the values necessary to make these calculations. Without their help, our task would be much more difficult (if not impossible). We will continue our discussion of Truth in Taxation next week. I hope everyone has a great weekend!

 

Truth in Taxation, Part 1

by Coy Holcombe.  

As we enter the summer months, the focus will turn from providing updates on the day to day happenings in the district, to a focus on setting the budget and the process that is used in setting the budget. One of the major aspects of the budget is local taxes. Over the next few days, we will be discussing this process and I will be sharing parts from the Comptroller’s publication  2010 Truth-In-Taxation: A Guide for Setting School District Tax Rates

 Today, I want to focus on the four principles of truth in taxation outlined in this publication as they relate to school districts:

  • Property owners have the right to know of increases in their properties’ appraised value and to be notified of the estimated taxes that could result from the new value.
  • A school district must publish its proposed tax rate, rollback tax rate and other specific information about its proposed taxes.
  • A school district must publish a budget and proposed tax rate hearing notice and hold a public hearing to provide an opportunity for citizen input concerning these issues.
  • A school district must hold an election to ratify a tax rate adopted above its rollback rate. (p.2)

The publications mentioned above will take place in the latter part of July. We will need information from our appraisal districts in order to make the necessary calculations. The hearing will take place in August. It will be published in newspapers and meeting will comply with the necessary posting regulations. While I have not done any formal calculations at this time, EISD does not intend to adopt a tax rate above the rollback rate. Thus, there will be no need for an election.

Tax rates and budgets can seem to be complicated. I will do my best to try to explain as much as possible about this process throughout the summer. If you ever have any questions, please feel free to contact me at cholcombe@eustaceisd.net

By the Numbers, End of 6th 6 Weeks

by Coy Holcombe.  

Below are the estimated earned vs. budget numbers through the end of the 6th six weeks. While we did increase our enrollment and attendance during the 6th 6 weeks, it was not enough to offset the low enrollment of the 4th and 5th six weeks.

      Difference
  Earned (Est.) Budget Earned v. Budget
ADA 1373.841 1415 -41.159
High School ADA 407.58 424.6 -17.02
SE FTE 46.2709 52.466 -6.1951
Mainstream ADA 47.511 50.272 -2.761
CATE 61.637 79.437 -17.8
GT Students 67 81.67 -14.67
Comp 1023.2 1007 16.2
Bilingual 9.91 10.1 -0.19
       
Reg Block $6,556,267 $6,642,593 -$86,326
SE $998,523 $1,114,165 -$115,642
CATE $430,945 $555,181 -$124,236
GT $41,341 $43,655 -$2,314
Comp $1,059,831 $1,042,648 $17,183
High School Allotment $112,086 $116,765 -$4,679
Bilingual $5,134 $5,229 -$95
Trans $139,400 $139,400 $0
Total Tier I $9,343,527 $9,659,636 -$316,109
       
Less Local $4,589,175 $4,558,008 $31,167
       
Tier I $4,754,352 $5,101,628 -$347,276
Tier II $421,547 $453,217 -$31,670
Staff Allotment $50,500 $50,500 $0
  $5,226,399 $5,605,345 -$378,946
Less Available $369,292 $369,292 $0
Less Title XIV $248,624 $248,624 $0
Total Foundation School Fund $4,608,483 $4,987,429 -$378,946
       
Available School Fund $154,614 $154,614 $0
Tech $40,432 $42,456 -$2,024
EDA $13,266 $51,242 -$37,976
Title XIV $463,302 $463,302 $0
       
Total State Aid $5,280,097 $5,699,043 -$418,946

 

Notes:

Through budget adjustments we were able to account for most of the 418,946 shortfall. It is anticipated that the remaining amount will be made up through additional saving measure between now and the end of August.

The bottom line is that we did not experience any growth in overall enrollment from the start of the school year. The 09-10 budget was built with an anticipation that there would be a slight increase in the overall enrollment in the district. For the 10-11 school year, the budget is being constructed with a zero growth factor. In other words, the numbers we end with are going to be the numbers that we use for budgeting.

One item of particular interest is the line labeled "Less Local". This line is a direct calculation based on our property values of the previous year. The greater the property values, the greater the local share. As our local share increases, the amount of Tier I aid decreases. You can see from the above that our Local Share and our Tier I aid from the state are almost equal. So any increase that we may see from local tax revenues because of increased property values is offset by a corresponding decrease in Tier I aid. It is not necessarily a one to one decrease, but it is close.

If you have any questions about the numbers presented here, please do not hesitate to contact me at cholcombe@eustaceisd.net.

 

School Finances

by Coy Holcombe.  

Attached to this entry is a document from the Texas Education Agency on school finances. TEA has tried to provide an explanation in an easy to understand format on a topic that can be quite complex. Overall, the report is well written and is as easy to understand as possible.

We will be talking a great deal this summer on school finance. I think that the report is a great way to start that discussion. As you look through this document, if you have questions, please do not hesitate to email me at cholcombe@eustaceisd.net.

Also, I want to remind everyone that EISD is offering a summer nutrition program. Everyone 18 years and younger eats free at breakfast and lunch. This is a state sponsored program. The summer nutrition program is being held in the HS cafeteria. Breakfast will be served from 7:30 – 8:30 and lunch will be served from 11:30 – 12:30.