Natalia ISD Board members Tiffany Rodriguez and Paul Almendarez were sworn in for new terms at the Board meeting held Dec. 11.
Rodriguez and Almendarez, both incumbents, defeated challenger Frank Garza in the general election on Nov. 7.
After the oath of office was administered to Rodriguez and Almendarez, the Board voted to remain with the same officers. Almendarez remains Vice President, while Eric Smith and Jack Bradley, Jr., retained their positions as President and Secretary, respectively.
In addition to Rodriguez, Almendarez, Smith, and Bradley, Board members Fernando Garza, Andrew Besa, and Eric Owens were also present.
Superintendent Hensley Cone, Assistant Superintendent Donald Stewart, Business Manager Barbara Flores, and Student Reps Priscilla Seaton and Samantha Sanchez were also at the meeting.
Annual Financial Report
The Texas Education Agency requires standardized, certified yearly audits for all districts in the state. Stephen Horton of Coleman, Horton & Company delivered Natalia ISD’s audit for the year running from Sept. 1, 2016 through Aug. 31, 2017.
Horton said the district had been given what is known as an unqualified or clean opinion, which is the highest possible opinion, “and one that you as a district should be very pleased with.”
As of Aug. 31, the district had $16.4 million in assets and $5.3 million in liabilities, for a net position of $12.4 million.
District revenue consisted of $2.9 million from local sources, $7.9 million from the state, and $123,980 from federal programs, for a total of $10,330,515. Expenditures totaled $10,851,912, leaving the district with a deficit of $130,721 for the year.
The fund balance at the end of the year was $5,490,344, or about six months of operating reserve.
“Anything over three months of reserves is very, very healthy,” Horton said. “The district has done a very good job of building reserve, maintaining it.”
Taxable value of property inside the district has risen from $135,076,241 in 2009 to $186,212,367 in 2017. As of Aug. 31, the district was still owed $342,027 in delinquent taxes.
“The district is in very sound financial condition,” Horton said.
Smith pointed out that the initial proposed budget for 2016-2017 featured a $1 million deficit that was eventually whittled down to a $400,000 deficit after Cone was hired.
“We actually finished $300,000 better than what we predicted to finish,” Smith said. “This is the first time we are in the red probably in seven or eight years, maybe longer…I don’t think this is going to be a thing that’s going to happen numerous years in a row.”
The Board adopted a balanced budget for 2017-2018.
The Board accepted the audit on an Owens-Almendarez motion and renewed the audit contract with Coleman, Horton & Company on a Smith-Bradley motion. Both votes were unanimous.
Girls Athletic Director
Head football Coach Chad Graves has served as the athletic director for both the boys’ and girls’ athletic programs since joining the district.
“The demands that we have on our athletic program are tremendous,” Cone said. “On the girls’ side, we want to add a girls’ athletic coordinator to help support the girls’ side of the program.”
The girls’ athletic director will be on a 12-month contract and will also be the head volleyball coach and have a teaching position aligned with the NJHS athletic periods. Salary is based on the district’s pay scale, and includes a $11,500 stipend ($5,000 for athletic director and $6,500 for head volleyball).
The position has already been posted. Cone, Graves, and several other coaches will be involved in the hiring process.
Cone said there wasn’t an exact start date for the position, but that he hoped the new hire will be able to start around Spring Break, which begins March 12.
“That way they get to meet the girls, talk to [Graves], and be ready for their plan for the summer, for next year,” Cone said.
Owens-Almendarez 7-0 to create the position passed 7-0.
By Marly Davis