Homeowners in Longview ISD could see lower taxes after the school board agreed to a proposed rate at its Monday meeting,
And encouraging a healthy lifestyle seemed to be a theme, with a new high school after-school program founded by actor and Longview High School graduate Matthew McConaughey and nearly $500,000 approved for compost accelerators at all campuses.
The proposed tax rate of $1.443 per $100 valuation is a reduction from the 2018-19 rate of $1.513 per $100 valuation.
Districts are lowering tax rates after House Bill 3, also known as the school finance bill, was passed in the last legislative session.
The proposed tax rate is 97 cents for maintenance and operations and 47.3 cents for the interest and sinking fund, making the total $1.443.
The rate would mean a $1,443 tax bill on a home valued at $100,000 with no exemptions claimed — a savings of $70 a year.
Superintendent James Wilcox said he is glad the district is able to provide a lower tax rate for its taxpayers.
“We’re extremely pleased that the state has seen fit to do that,” he said. “Jay Dean, our state rep, was extremely helpful and worked on getting all this stuff passed.”
The board will meet to officially adopt a budget and tax rate at noon Aug. 28.
Trustees also approved a new after-school program for the high school.
The “just keep livin” Foundation was founded by McConaughey and his wife, Camila, to empower high school students with tools for healthy and active lives, according to its website.
District spokeswoman Elizabeth Ross said the foundation approached Longview ISD to add the after-school program to Longview High School.
All program costs are covered by the foundation, Ross said.
The program, open to all high school students, will meet two days a week and focus on “health, wellness, community service and gratitude,” Ross wrote.
Ross will serve as the program director, and high school Assistant Principals Donna Clark and Steven Brown will be program managers.
The only other places in Texas with the program are in Dallas, Houston and Austin, Ross said. Longview High School will be the only East Texas program. The Texas programs already are planning a statewide meetup and field day.
“It’s going to help our students in so many great ways. We want to reach a minimum of 50 kids; we would love to have about 125,” Ross said. “We are working on incentive programs to get them excited about coming to and having perfect attendance.”
Ross said any student can join, and no one will be turned away.
Students may sign up for the program at registration Aug. 5-8, she wrote. To register before that, email Ross at email@example.com .
The district is trying to partner with Thrive360, a nonprofit organization founded in 2015 with the goal of providing at-risk teens and their families with fitness, sports and after-school opportunities built on a Christian context, to help start the program’s goals at the middle school level.
The new after-school program will be in addition to Boys & Girls Club of the Big Pine programs already in place at some Longview ISD campuses.
And students on all campuses also will start learning more about composting and sustainability after the board approved food waste compost accelerators.
Board President and Place 4 Trustee Ginia Northcutt said the accelerators take food waste and use heat and pressure so the waste is turned into compost within 24 hours.
“The plan is in the younger campuses, those kids will actually be putting their waste into the compost, coming back the next day, finding the compost and going and actually spreading it out into the garden on campus,” she said.
While every campus in the district will get a compost accelerator, not every campus has a garden yet, she said.
“I’m so excited about the composters, because I think it’s so important,” she said. “We have limited resources, and to be able to take the things that we have and keep them out of our landfills and to renew them and renew the Earth and for the children to actually be able to see that process, to see food waste turned into something that is of value and nutrient that goes into a garden that helps nourish the food, I think it’s amazing.”
The compost accelerators will cost $471,100, Northcutt said.
Wilcox said the district pays for the food waste on campuses to be picked up and taken to the landfill. Now, the waste will be composted on sight.
“That’s a life skill,” he said. “That just changes the environment; it changes the Earth.”
He said using the accelerators will expose thousands of students to the concepts of compost, keeping the environment clean, health and nutrition.
“That’s what we want to expose to our students,” Wilcox said.