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Longview ISD budget deficit less than anticipated

By Angela Ward award@news-journal.com
Aug. 13, 2012 at 11 p.m.

Longview ISD trustees received welcome news at their Monday night meeting.

Local tax revenues have increased, based on certified taxable values, rather than decreased as estimated values had indicated, said Lynn Marshall, assistant superintendent of finance.

That means the district's budget deficit will be about $400,000 less than expected.

"You've got to take a little bad with the good, and despite the increase in local revenue, our state funding is still down, but overall the district is in better financial shape than we thought it was a month ago," Marshall said.

The district is also losing $1.4 million from a one-time federal grant it received for the 2011-12 fiscal year.

The budget includes pay raises for hourly auxiliary and paraprofessional district employees, such as janitors and cafeteria workers, but does not include raises for faculty and administration.

"I don't feel great about the fact that I'm presenting a deficit budget, but it's a $1.6 million deficit, which is better than the $2 million deficit we were looking at in July," Marshall said.

The district will dip into its reserve fund to cover the deficit.

The total budget for the district is estimated at about $62 million. The proposed tax rate will remain the same at $1.513 per $100 of valuation. A special meeting to adopt 2012-13 budget and tax rate has been set for noon Aug. 29.

Board President Ted Beard said he appreciated the frugal philosophy of the staff.

"We're in better shape than most other districts around the state," Beard said. "Things are still tight for us, but the situation isn't as desperate here as it is other places."

Board member Dr. Troy Simmons also expressed his appreciation to the staff and his relief in finding that local revenues would be up.

"I was afraid that we were losing revenue at both the state and local levels, and that was really concerning me," Simmons said.

Interim Superintendent James Wilcox also gave a report on the district's IB, Advanced Placement and T-STEM programs; the T-STEM program is also known as Global High and operates as a sort of "school within a school" on the Longview High School campus.

"We're the only school in Texas that has both an IB program and a T-STEM program on the same campus," Wilcox said. "We also offer dual credit classes, allowing students to accumulate college credit hours while still in high school."

Beard said the ultimate goal of the various programs is to allow students to achieve enough college credit for an associate's degree by the time they graduate high school.

Three board members - John Harrison, Dr. Chris Mack and Jud Murray - were not in attendance. The start of the meeting was delayed briefly, as the board lacked at quorum at the stated meeting time of 7 p.m.



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