Pine Tree ISD teachers, staff members and homeowners should be smiling after trustees approved the district’s 2019-20 budget Monday.
Every teacher in the district will receive at least a $4,000 raise, while every staff member will get at least a $1,500 bump. And the district’s proposed property tax rate is set to decrease, providing relief to homeowners.
Superintendent Steve Clugston said the district had planned to give teachers and staff raises before a bill recently passed by the Legislature mandated it. Those raises would have put the district in a deficit.
However, House Bill 3 boosts funding to public schools and states portion of those funds must be used on staff raises.
The total revenue of the 2019-2020 budget is $50.68 million, while budget expenditures total $50.05 million. That’s about an $11 million increase from the budget passed in June 2018, which had revenues of $38.38 million and expenditures of $39.11 million.
Assistant Superintendent Salena Jackson said the budget includes $1.9 million for teacher and staff salaries.
Pine Tree will receive $6,160 per student based on average daily attendance, she said. That is an increase from 2018-2019, which was $5,140 per student.
The district estimated its average daily attendance for 2019-20 at 4,215 students, Jackson said.
“We’ve also got a small, mid-size allotment from House Bill 3 that generates another $700,000 in revenue,” Jackson said. “That’s a new allotment that they wrote in; it’s really based on the size of the district and how many square miles we own.”
HB 3 also provides money for early education, Jackson said. Pine Tree will get another $474,000 it did not receive in previous years. Those funds will be used to help pay for full-day pre-K.
The bill also includes new funding to help students with dyslexia, Jackson said. The district will receive an estimated $94,000 for materials and resources to help those students.
The district’s compensatory education allotment increased to $856,000, Jackson said. She said compensatory education is a set of criteria the Texas Education Association has for defining the number for students at risk for dropping out of school.
“We were already getting this, but they changed the criteria for it,” she said.
HB 3 also awarded funds to districts to help pay for the provisions of Senate Bill 11, the school safety measure. Jackson said Pine Tree received $40,973.
Before approving the budget, Place 5 Trustee Jim Cerrato said he wanted to add Clugston to the $1,500 salary raise list, which the board approved.
“I had taken myself out of the raises purposefully because it’s not about me,” Clugston said. “Until our people are paid better, I think I want to put as much money as we can towards our staff. I thought that was very generous of them and not something they need to do.”
Clugston was hired in 2018 on a three-year contract with a base salary of $175,000.
The district’s proposed property tax rate for 2019-20 is $1.42 per $100 valuation — a decrease from the current rate of $1.52 per $100 valuation. That decrease also is related to HB3.
The new rate, which will not get final approval until August, would mean owners of a home valued at $100,000 would pay about $1,420 per year, which is a cut of about $100.