Board Notes: February 13, 2024

Presentations and Recognitions

Denton ISD’s Board of School Trustees recognized several groups and individuals at the Feb. 13 meeting, including Denton Vote Group, district counselors who received statewide recognitions and a McMath Middle School teacher who was chosen as the Texas Council for the Social Studies (TXCSS) Outstanding Middle School Teacher of the Year. 

Denton Vote Group is a local organization dedicated to promoting non-partisan voter registration and civic engagement. In addition, Denton Vote Group is also instrumental
in helping educate the community about candidates, deadlines and where to vote.

Over the past year, Denton Vote Group has volunteered at each of Denton ISD’s high school campuses, helping 18-year-old seniors at the LaGrone Academy, as well as Denton, Ryan, Braswell and Guyer High Schools register to vote while promoting civic engagement. In addition, Denton Vote Group also volunteered at both of Denton ISD’s Back-to-School Fairs and the district’s new hire event, providing information and voter registration assistance.

Trustees also recognized Counselors at Shultz Elementary, Sam Houston Elementary, Rodriguez Middle School and Strickland Middle School received the prestigious honor – marking the 13th consecutive year that at least one Denton ISD campus has received a CREST award. The CREST Award was introduced by the Texas School Counselor Association in 2005 to recognize excellence in school counseling.

CREST stands for Counselors Reinforcing Excellence for Students in Texas and is a program focusing on 10 areas where school counselors have the greatest impact on the achievements, career aspirations, personal gains and social aspects of students’ lives. The program helps counselors evaluate their current counseling guidelines and techniques while also promoting their services to students and parents.

The Rodriguez Middle School counseling staff consists of Stephani Mohon, Paige Darrah and Michael Rooney. Strickland Middle School’s counseling staff consists of Kelli Hauser, Jennifer Brim and Mandy Barton. Sam Houston Elementary’s counseling staff consists of Lacy Fraser, and Shultz Elementary’s counseling staff consists of Amelia Torres.

Lastly, trustees honored Michelle Duesman, an eighth-grade teacher at McMath, who was chosen as the (TXCSS) Outstanding Middle School Teacher of the Year. Ms. Duesman was one of only six teachers statewide that received a recognition from TXCSS. The Outstanding Teacher of the Year award is given in recognition of active participation in local, state and national social studies councils, as well as outstanding social studies teaching at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

Employee Health Insurance and Employee Wellness Center Update
Chris Bomberger, Executive Director of Child Nutrition and Risk Management and Nicole Goodman, Director of Health Services, provided an update on employee health insurance and the Theresa Grant Riggs Employee Wellness Center.  For 2023-2024, Mr. Bomberger noted 50 percent participation in employee health insurance, with 50 percent of employees declining coverage. Many elected coverage via other plans, typically from a spouse’s employer. In total, 1,869 employees enrolled in some variation of an employee only health insurance plan. Mr. Bomberger also highlighted roughly the same level of total participation in employee dental insurance. 

Regarding the employee wellness center, Mr. Bomberger explained that since the center opened in July until December, Concentra staff have facilitated 1,698 total exam visits, with the highest number of visits coming on Mondays. The most popular times to visit the clinic have also been mid-morning between 9-10 a.m. and late afternoon between 3-4 p.m.

“We have assembled a great team of support for our employees, especially our employee’s children, through a seamless referral from our campus nurses to our clinic,” said Ms. Goodman. “We believe that employees are missing fewer days since we have an immediate resource for their own children to receive immediate, accessible treatment.” 

Health Services Update
Nicole Goodman, Director of Health Services, provided a health services update for the 2023-2024 school year. Ms. Goodman noted to date, 16,000 individual students have visited the nurse’s office, and there have been 87,000 office visits along with 50,000 medication/treatment visits. The district has also administered 38,000 state-mandated screenings. 

Over the last several months, Denton ISD has implemented a school nurse assistance program (SNAP), which allows nurses to work directly with various departments like child nutrition, special education and human resources for a more efficient medical documentation process. This program also allows nurses to communicate more efficiently with parents, enabling them to send various letters and notifications regarding office visits and immunizations.

“Keeping the lines of communication open between parents and our school nurses is key to student learning,” said Barbara Burns, Board of School Trustees Vice President. “As I have visited with our school nurses, they remark that they have a lot of documentation to create, and helping them be more efficient in the important work they do is critical.” 

Budget Discussion for 2024-2025
Jennifer Stewart, Executive Director of Budget, provided an update on the 2024-2025 budget. Ms. Stewart highlighted a timeline for the 2024-2025 budget, including key dates and deadlines. Ms. Stewart also provided a 10-year history of Denton ISD’s fund balance dating back to 2012-2013, noting an overall steady increase. 

This linear trend aligns with a financial goal of Denton ISD, which is having a sufficient fund balance to be able to maintain fiscal independence in the case of a financial need or crisis. This includes maintaining a total general operating fund balance of 25 percent of the district’s operating fund expenditures, maintain the district’s number of days cash on hand greater than 60 days and maintain unassigned general operating fund balance to equal at least 15 percent of the districts’ total operating expenditures. Ms. Stewart explained over the last 10 years, there has only been one year that saw a significant decrease in fund balance, and it came last year to provide employee compensation increases. 

Ms. Stewart further detailed a history of local tax collection as it correlates with funding from the state of Texas. Over the last six years, as local tax collections and home values have increased, state funding has generally decreased. In 2021-2022, 72 percent of Denton ISD’s funding was from local tax collections, with 28 percent coming from the state. However, in 2022-2023, 83 percent of Denton ISD’s funding came from local tax collections, while just 17 percent came from the state. 

“Our taxpayers wrote bigger checks, and the money that was supposed to come from Austin decreased,” said Dr. Jamie Wilson, superintendent of schools. “You have heard me say when local property taxes increase, the state gets the benefit of that. The numbers speak for themselves. It’s blatantly obvious that the funds our community has been led to believe comes to our schools does not.” 

Quarterly Investment Report
Vicki Garcia, Executive Director of Financial Operations, provided an overview to Trustees regarding the district’s second quarter investment report ending Dec. 31, 2023.

From Sept. 30, 2023 to Dec. 31, 2023, the beginning market value of Denton ISD’s portfolio was $1,199,927,851, while the ending market value was $1,269,753,994 – representing a $69,826,143 increase in market value. 

Denton ISD - 4th Quarter Growth Report
Bob Templeton of Zonda, the district’s demographer, provided the Denton ISD quarterly growth report for the fourth quarter of 2023. Mr. Templeton noted that, as was the case in the third quarter growth report, Denton ISD continues to rank as the fastest growing school district in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex in terms of annual closings.

In addition, from fourth quarter 2022 to fourth quarter 2023, annual closings in Denton ISD rose from 2,845 to 3,189. In the last 12 months, annual closings rose 12 percent. 

Mr. Templeton also explained that Denton ISD currently has 58 actively building subdivisions, with 31 future subdivisions in various stages of planning with over 3,400 lots available to build on. In the fourth quarter of the year, 440 lots have also been delivered for development. Groundwork is underway on more than 2,300 lots within 11 subdivisions. 

Denton ISD is forecasted to enroll nearly 36,700 students by 2028-29 and more than 41,300 by 2033-34.