Editor's note: The following was updated to reflect a correction in the property tax rate of $1.126 per $100 valuation — down 0.002 cents from the current rate.
The Killeen Independent School District board of trustees officially proposed the budget for the upcoming school year at the regular meeting Tuesday night, but not without some criticism.
Rick Beaule, president of the Killeen Educators Association, a chapter of the Texas State Teachers Association, addressed what he called a “startling contrast” in the budgeted salaries of some Killeen ISD personnel in comparison with other districts statewide.
“I have spoken before on issues of prioritizing in the budget,” Beaule said. “I spoke of Dr. (Martin Luther) King’s belief that a budget is a moral document and I firmly believe that statement to be true. ... With that said, there is something that I wish to draw to your attention as you continue your budget deliberations that you may not be aware of.”
A freedom of information request of the district’s financial information submitted to the Texas Education Agency, Beaule said, revealed some Killeen ISD employees receive far less than their peers statewide.
“The average salary rank of teachers and positions such as nurses, librarians and school psychologists is 203rd in the state, which is pretty good,” he said. “The average salary rank of administrators and central administrative staff is a little bit better, 201st. Now compare that with the average salary ranking of KISD auxiliary and instructional personnel in the state — 1,114. That’s in the bottom 100 in the state.”
“We must make sure that one person’s success doesn’t come at the cost of another person’s struggle,” he said. “Please keep the incalculable value and aspirations of our support staff in mind as you complete your budget work for this year.”
After a presentation from Megan Bradley, the district’s Chief Financial Officer, the board gave its preliminary approval to the proposed budget for fiscal year 2017.
The budget is not officially approved, however, until a public hearing is held. The board scheduled the public hearing on the budget to be held at the board workshop meeting on Aug. 23.
The district’s proposed budget for the 2016-2017 school year — including general fund, school nutrition and debt services — shows revenues of $401.3 million with expenditures projected at $396.8 million.
A property tax rate of $1.126 per $100 valuation is proposed — down 0.002 cents from the current rate.
View the district’s proposed numbers at bit.ly/2aKsDhl.
Official campus and district accountability ratings are expected to be released Monday from the Texas Education Agency, but the Killeen school district’s director of Accountability and Assessment is pretty optimistic about what lies ahead.
“The good news is if everything works out and the projections are correct ... we think that all campuses in the the district will receive an accountability rating of met standard,” Teresa Daugherty, director of Accountability and Assessment told the board.
Daugherty said she ran computer projections on the preliminary data and is hopeful she will have the same report to the board at the next workshop.
The two accountability ratings a district or campus in Texas can receive from the state is “met standard” or “improvement required.”
“We’ve been looking at these numbers all summer and I’m confident in Teresa,” Superintendent John Craft said. “That’s a pretty tremendous feat. It’s just been a tremendous team effort.”
During a workshop on Aug. 23, the school board likely will decide on the insurance for thousands of district employees.
Representatives from the Alamo Insurance Group presented the board with options from Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, Scott and White, and United Healthcare. Proposals from Blue Cross Blue Shield and United Healthcare would increase costs for the district more than 20 percent, while Aetna had the lowest of 6 percent, down from their original bid of 9 percent.
District employees are currently covered by Aetna insurance; however, a change in the plan could change employees options to go out-of-network if the board goes forward with the new Aetna proposal.
According to representatives of the San Antonio-based Alamo Insurance Group, only 1 percent of the district’s employees currently use out-of-network doctors.
But as board member JoAnn Purser pointed out: 1 percent of the district’s employees is still quite a lot of people. The board decided to table the issue and return to it during a workshop meeting on Aug. 23.
Dirk Davis, a member of the district’s special education parental advisory board, called out the district for presenting a special education plan without first consulting the opinions of the board it created.
“Why weren’t parents brought in on that plan?” Davis asked the board during public forum. “We didn’t even know it was being developed.”
The district unveiled a three-year outlook for the special education department at a workshop in July on the anniversary of the TEA mandated compliance plan for the troubled department.
As a father of an autistic son who spent his entire educational career at Killeen ISD, Davis said he was leery of the intentions of the special education board from the outset.
“Are we here for a purpose or it is just a PR ploy?” Davis asked. “I’m beginning to wonder. ...Quit doing things in a secretive manner, because this is an important subject.”
For more on Davis, read bit.ly/2b733oQ. The board was unable to respond during public forum, per board policy, but board president Terry Delano said someone from district administration would reach out to Davis shortly.