Ector County Independent School District is estimating an increase in tax collections and state foundation funding totaling about $14.2 million for 2018-19.
During the past three years, Chief Financial Officer David Harwell said the district has seen total budget reductions and cost avoidance of $30,840,000.
ECISD estimates that it will see an increase in tax collections of about $8 million and state foundation funding of $6.2 million.
No total estimate of the 2018-19 budget was presented.
However, the $14.2 million projected increase is less than half of the past cuts.
Much of it will be taken up by increases in:
- Funding the Ector Middle School initiative of $3.7 million. This is related to making Ector an in-district charter school run by the Ector Success Academy Network.
- An increase in campus student allotments to pre-reduction levels of $2.39 million.
- An increase in estimated Teacher Retirement System benefit costs of $1.195 million.
- An increase in property insurance premiums of $705,000.
- An increase in estimated health insurance and workers’ compensation costs of $715,000.
- Increased operational needs of $534,000.
Trustees also discussed asking for an 8-cent tax rate election which would yield $11,430,000 in revenue — $9,842,000 in local tax revenue and $1,588,000 in additional state funding — next year. If it was approved by voters, it would mean an increase of approximately $89 per year for the average home in Ector County. The average home price being $170,587.
Estimated appraised property values in ECISD are projected to increase 4 percent this year, which means an increase in taxes for property owners.
Harwell said the 4 percent increase in values means a $64 increase in taxes for the average homeowner with the average home value being $170,587.
With a proposed 8 cent tax ratification election, Harwell said the increase on the average home value would be $89 per year.
Harwell reviewed the tax rate and budget for 2018-19 during a work study session Tuesday.
Superintendent Tom Crowe said that as appraised values go up, state funding decreases and the district has a more challenging population — more economically disadvantaged students, more at risk students and more English language learners, among others.
“Without a TRE, we’re going to get further in the hole,” Crowe said.
Every year, Crowe said services to students and classroom supplies are cut. He added that teachers have had to buy their own supplies, such as paper.
Crowe said no one has gotten a raise the last two years, except for teacher step increases and he’s seeing people leave as a result.
He said the district is $16 million down from where it was two years ago and ECISD spends less per pupil than its peer districts.
Board Vice President Doyle Woodall, who was substituting as president because Carol Gregg had to attend an Odessa City Council meeting, said taxpayers need to know how much “we’re getting screwed over by unfunded mandates from the state.”
Harwell said one example was transportation which costs $16 million, but ECISD gets $2 million from the state.
Harwell added that there is only one way to get more money and that’s through more students attending ECISD.
But Crowe said the district still has to educate those students, which those funds go back into.
In other business, the board heard presentations on:
The ACCESS Program, a three-pronged model targeting ECISD middle schools. Presenters were Star Tech Group representatives Ravi Shakamuri and Regunath Subramanian.
Area hospitals and health care professionals along with community and chamber of commerce members would partner with each of the middle schools to focus on career, education and health initiatives.
It would involve aligning Medical Center Health System, Odessa Regional Medical Center and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Family and Community Medicine to make an impact on the education, career and health experience of ECISD students.
The material said ACCESS institutions would work with campus specific initiatives to strengthen a student’s engagement and learning abilities that connect to the district, teachers, counselors and parent priorities.
Medical Center would work with Bonham and Bowie students; Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center with Wilson & Young and Ector; and Odessa Regional Medical Center with Nimitz and Crockett, the material said.
StarTech Group and StarCare Health Services will be collaborating on the initiative.
The program also includes Odessa Chamber of Commerce contacts for student shadowing and eventually internships at the high school level. Shakamuri said there would be no cost to the school district and he believes a two-year trial would allow enough time to measure results and gauge success, the board recap said.
Trustees heard the annual report from the Student Health Advisory Council and its recommendations.
They included: continuing work on a pilot Campus SHAC program to address school-specific issues; continue the award winning Human Growth & Development program (given a statewide award by the Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy last month); see recess before lunch becoming a standard practice in ECISD schools; continue the expansion of Communities in Schools in middle schools; and training for school staff on trauma informed care for students struggling to control their emotions, and safe school environments for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, the recap said.
The board heard a request from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin to allow the university to set up a VIP tent inside Ratliff Stadium where alcohol will be served to a limited number of major donors at UTPB home football games.
UTPB officials said it will be licensed and regulated as legally required, and participants will be closely monitored, the recap said.
Trustees reviewed a memorandum of understanding with the Intercultural Development Research Association for the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program.
The program is a student-to-student tutoring program serving at-risk students.
Odessa High School students in the program travel to San Jacinto Elementary and Sam Houston Elementary to work with and mentor younger kids. This year, about 70 OHS students were part of the program and it received national attention last December when IDRA referred to Odessa High as its site of the year, the recap said.