Tax rate postponed
The Devine ISD school board voted Monday (June 20) to adopt a proposed 2022-23 general fund budget of $20.3 million, of which 79 percent goes to salaries.
Action on the tax rate to support that budget was postponed until August when the Texas Education Agency acts on the calculation of local tax rate compression, Devine ISD Chief Financial Officer Shannon Ramirez told the board.
“Right now it could be as low as 80.46 cents,” Ramirez said. However, calculation of the maximum compressed rate for the school district’s maintenance and operations (M&O) tax may drive that number up to 88.46 cents.”
The interest and sinking (I&S) tax rate for the budget presented by Ramirez is 24 cents.
“A new requirement from Texas Tax Code 26.04 (e-5) requires an appendix to budget with the tax rate calculation forms for no-new-revenue tax rate and voter approval tax rate,” the PowerPoint presentation to the board states. “However, the forms are not yet available for tax year 2021. The budget will need to be amended to append the calculation forms before adopting the tax rate.”
The general fund budget includes $16 million in payroll costs, $2.2 million (11 percent) in contracted services and $154,350 (one percent) in debt service.
On a motion by Chris Davis seconded by Keri James, the motion passed five to zero. Renee Frieda and Henry Moreno were absent from the meeting.
Last minute adjustment to the final amended budget included a $1.4 million reduction in revenue attributed to average daily attendance (ADA) money. The total number of days of student attendance is divided by the total number of days in the regular school year.
The final budget amendments were passed five to zero on a motion by James, seconded by Davis.
In other action, the school board approved funding of $270,000 annually for a joint Fire Academy operated by the Medina County Emergency Services District No. 2, the Devine Volunteer Fire Department and the Devine ISD to prepare students to obtain their certification as emergency responders from the Texas Commission on Fire Protection.
To earn a certificate, responders must undergo an approved basic fire suppression program, pass an exam and earn accompanying emergency medical qualifications.
“The public school system today needs to be creating kids that can come out and go into the work force instead of going into debt,” Devine Fire Chief Greg Atkinson said.
Devine HS student would concentrate on firefighting in their junior year and move on to studying to be emergency medical technicians (EMT) in their senior year, Atkinson said. Plans call for the academy to start this fall with the new 2022-23 school year.
The project is already working on grants and partnership to further reduce the amount the school district has invested in the project, Atkinson said.
“Our problem in getting funding to begin was a lot of people we approached said ‘This sounds great – come back when it’s approved,’” Atkinson said.
He told the board he has already been contacted by other school districts that might want to participate in the future, further driving down the cost. The decision was made to limit participation solely to Devine ISD student for the initial year.
“I didn’t want to overwhelm my staff or make too many mistakes starting out,” Atkinson said. “We wanted to make sure we were drawing the right numbers to make sure students got the most out of it.”
At present, 11 juniors and 14 seniors have shown interest in participating in the program, he said.
“It can give these kids the opportunity to come out job ready with not one but two certifications, one as a firefighter and one as an EMT,” Atkinson said.
In other action, the board approved a $193,942 payment to Gerloff Company of San Antonio as part of a $3.6 million roof renovation project. To date, work has been completed on the transportation building, covered parking and outbuildings behind the central office.
The board accepted a large donation from DYSA to re-do basketball courts across from the Intermediate School (more on this next week).
Following a closed session for personnel action at the conclusion of the board meeting, the board voted five to zero to approve an increase in Superintendent Todd Grandjean’s salary. The motion was made by Carl Brown and seconded by Chris Davis.
By Anton Reicher