MISD adopts deficit budget, adjusts tax rate
By RICHARD MARK GLOVER
MARFA – By a 4-1 vote, Marfa school board members approved a deficit budget for the 2012-2013 school year.
The total budget is $4,313,340, slightly down from the 2011-2012 budget of $4,356,087. The total projected loss for fiscal 2012-2013 school year is about $615,000.
“I have never submitted a deficit budget before, this is a first for me,” said new Superintendent Andrew Peters.
Trustee Katie Price Fowlkes voted against the budget, while trustees Mark Cash, Robert Halpern, Tina Lujan, and Zach Moerbe voted in the affirmative. Trustees Cosme Roman and Teresa Villarreal Ontiveroz were absent.
“I haven’t had time to study this in detail,” said Price Fowlkes, who asked a number of questions during the pre-vote discussion period.
“We knocked out another $32,000 in the last 10 days, but it’s harder to trim than I thought,” said Peters.
The school lost another $300,000 in state funding this year as part of the 2011 Texas Legislature campaign to cut school funding.
Trustees also increased a proposed nine-cent property rate reduction to a one-cent drop, because of an earlier miscalculation. The proposed total property tax rate is $1.3626 compared to the current tax rate of $1.37, still a one-cent decrease.
Fifty-one percent of the new budget is allocated for instruction. The balance is made up of a number of components, including administration, transportation, payments to service a $14 million debt of voter-approved bonds, security, facilities, health services, fiscal agents and counseling.
“In this community I wouldn’t cut counseling,” said Peters. “But some of these consulting fees need a look. In my book a consultant is somebody that borrows your watch to tell you what time it is. We’re spending money on people who are not educating our kids.”
Peters also commented on payroll costs. “Sixty-eight percent (of total budget) for payroll is not bad. Generally, schools in Texas that are in trouble run about 85 percent.”
Presently MISD employs a total of 78 people, including two part-timers and excluding substitute teachers. The school has 39 teachers on the payroll. The teacher-to-student ratio is 8.31 to 1, according to Sanchez.
“If you got that many on staff, you should be exemplary,” said Peters, in reference to the school’s state rating of ‘academically unacceptable.’ “We have a lot of people but not necessarily in the right place.”
Peters plans to continue finding ways to cut the budget but he acknowledges, “You tend to spend what you approve.”
“Trimming can be done but not in the first month. It’ll take three or fourth months to find the waste,” said Peters. “At this rate, in 2.5 years you’re out of business.”
The MISD general fund reserve presently stands, as of the end of fiscal year 2011-2012, at $2,546,260.
MISD continues to show a deficit in the cafeteria department, and the Redford busing and tuition program will cost MISD taxpayers about $85,000 in 2012-2013. Marfa closed the Redford school several years ago, and those students are bused to and educated in Presidio schools at Marfa’s expense.
In other business, trustees unanimously passed a resolution to oppose the High Stakes Standardized Testing as proposed by the Texas Education Agency. Students are already required to take state tests 40 days of the year.
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