Board briefed on current legislative proposals
In the opening discussion of the 2011-12 budget, Dr. Braswell emphasized that “we need to remember that each number in the budget has a face.”
“Each number is a person who was recruited to come to work in Denton ISD,” he said. He then outlined the budget shortfalls that the district is facing.
The budget decreases are being considered because the 82nd Texas Legislature currently is looking at proposed budget cuts of almost $10 billion to Texas public schools over the next two years. .
The state's revenue shortfall is attributed in part to the legislature compressing the property tax rate for school districts. To fund this tax reduction, the legislature implemented a business franchise tax. However, only $3.9 billion of the estimated $6.4 billion in revenue has been realized at the state level.
Dr. Braswell outlined scenarios being presented by the Texas Senate subcommittee and the impact they would have on Denton ISD:
Scenario 1: Cap target revenue at $4, 872 per student - $33 million loss for Denton ISD
Scenario 2: An across-the-board reduction of $323 per WADA throughout the state or about 6.05 percent reduction for districts - $11 million loss for Denton ISD
Scenario 3: A percentage reduction necessary to reduce the hold harmless rule (with a 9 to 10 percent reduction) - $18.1 million loss for Denton ISD
Hybrid model: Combines reductions to revenue targets and hold harmless for additional state aide for tax reduction - $14.3 million loss for Denton ISD
Although there are statewide movements to utilize a portion of the state's Rainy Day fund to help fund public schools, there are challenges.
“Getting consensus on the Rainy Day fund is slow in the House due to the number of ‘Freshman Representatives' who are associated with ‘fiscal conservatives,'” Dr. Braswell said. He added that the chance of the legislature calling a special session was increasing.
Board Trustee Curtis Ramsey expressed concern over the state's proposed budget cuts. “Denton has been proud of the quality of its programs for more than three decades. Many people move here because of the quality of education of our students,” he said.
Board approves expanding Early Resignation Incentive Program
The Board approved adding more employee groups to its Early Resignation Incentive Program.
The original plan was initiated two weeks ago to help decrease the district's budget for the 2011-12 school year.
“What we are faced with … is difficult,” said Dennis Stephens, executive director of human resources.
The incentive, which was increased from 10 to 15 percent of an employee's base pay with a $10,000 maximum cap, has been expanded to include more groups: school administrators, curriculum coordinators, academic counselors, librarians, special education teachers, special education instructional aides, and districtwide office paraprofessionals.
These groups were added to those employee groups who were approved for the program on Feb. 22 and include: classroom teachers, curriculum support teachers, computer technicians, middle school office paraprofessionals and custodians. All are part of the Level I personnel plan for budget reductions.
The deadline for submitting resignation letters was extended to noon Tuesday, March 22. To be eligible for the incentive, an employee must complete their employment guidelines for the 2010-11 school year, must be employed full time and is subject to Teacher Retirement System (TRS) benefits. School officials outlined the incentives as a way to help reduce the budget for 2011-12 school year.
It includes staff members who have a minimum of 15 years of service and are on continuing contracts.
“The intent of these incentives is to get as many letters of separation. We are trying to do everything we can to reduce the number of letters that will need to go out after March 22,” Superintendent Ray Braswell said.
The guidelines approved by the board now targets 232 full-time staff members. As of March 8, the district had approved 17 letters of early separation.
Those included in the continuing contract employee groups:
Elementary Teachers - in any content area except fine arts – visual or music.
Middle School Teachers - in any content area
High School Teachers - in any content area
Special Education Teachers – districtwide
Curriculum Support Teachers/Curriculum Coordinators
Administrators - Pay Grade 4 and above (Assistant principals, principals, assistant directors, directors, assistant superintendents, etc.)
Academic Counselors and Librarians
The incentive also includes non-contractual employees who must be employed for at least four years:
Computer Technicians – Pay Grade I
Districtwide Special Education Instructional Aides
Districtwide Office Paraprofessionals
Prior to the approval of the incentive program, Human Resources Specialist Regina Wright said that SSC, the district's custodial contractor, would be able to hire the district's custodians at their current hourly rate.
After the presentation, Mr. Stephens said once his office went through all the resignations, retirements and leaves – they would identify those who would receive letters.
Trustee Jeannetta Smith asked: “Since the layoffs are all over the state, is there some way our technology people could combine efforts statewide to help relocate staff?”
“It would be a good thing to try to pull this type of resource together,” Dr. Braswell said.
Board receives update on Special Education staffing
Debbie Roybal, executive director of special education, outlined potential staffing changes for the district's special education department.
She outlined several staffing options for the inclusion, resource and content mastery ratios. The rations include:
· Current elementary of 8 to 1 per teacher and 5 to 1 with teacher and para-professional. Proposed Option 1 would be 9.5 students per teacher and 8 to one with teacher/para.
· Current middle school is 11 to 1 per teacher and 8 to 1 with teacher and para-professional. Proposed Option 1 would be 11 students per teacher and 8 to one with teacher/para.
· Current high school: 13 to 1 per teacher and 12 to 1 with teacher and para-professional. Proposed Option 1: 15 students per teacher and 12 to one with teacher/para.
“We're trying to reduce our staff without decreasing services to our students,” Mrs. Royball said.
After her extensive report Trustee Rudy Rodriguez asked her to share the information with the special education parents.
Board approves filing for 3 waiver days with TEA
The board approved submitting a waiver request to the Texas Education Agency. Assistant Superintendent Roger Rutherford outlined the makeup dates and waiver application process for the five inclement weather days that caused the schools to close on Feb. 1, 2, 3 and 4, and Feb. 9. The inclement weather days have been scheduled in the school calendar for Friday, April 22, and Friday, May 27. The board voted to file the other three days as waiver days with TEA.
Board updated on Accelerated Degree Plan
Marty Thompson, director of Career and Technology Education for Denton ISD, and Dr. Lee Ann Nutt, representing North Central Texas College, outlined a new program to be offered at the LaGrone Advanced Technology Complex for the 2011-12 school year.
Mrs. Thompson said the ATC is broadening the course offerings for high school students to better prepare them for college and high-demanding careers. The Accelerated Degree Plan (ADP) is being established through a partnership with NCTC, University of North Texas and ATC. It will give students the opportunity to earn college credit and/or the necessary preparation to attain certifications or licenses in various technical fields.
The new ADP allows students to combine course choices into a plan that shortens college expenses and time. Each plan can be personalized to match the student's specific career goal, Mrs. Thompson said.
Board Trustee Jeanetta Smith asked about providing adult education classes at the ATC. “We are interested in what we can contribute to the community and this is a process that we've been discussing with Mrs. Thompson,” Dr. Nutt said.
Board receives growth report for fourth quarter of 2010
Rocky Gardiner, demographic consultant with Templeton Demographics, and Rod Reeves, facilities coordinator for the district, updated the Board of Trustees on the demographic and housing analysis for the fourth quarter of 2010. Among the highlights of the presentation were:
· Denton ISD ranks among the top five (fourth) in the DFW area in home closures and second in inventory for future housing
· The district will likely see less than 900 new home closures in 2011, forecasting a projected growth of 862 students or a 3.6 percent growth districtwide
· Denton ISD will continue to grow at an average rate of 3.75 percent for the next five year, projecting a total of 28,900 students for the 2015/16 school year
In other action, the board:
· The board received an update on the Mayhill Road improvements from Mr. Reeves, and Frank Payne, engineer with the City of Denton. They outlined how the city is planning to eventually turn the road into six lanes, starting with two lanes in each direction. Mr. Payne said construction is anticipated to start in early 2012.