The Killeen school board proposed a $391 million general fund budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year its meeting Tuesday to be officially discussed and considered for adoption after a public hearing Aug. 28.
The proposed budget is $8.1 million higher than last year and includes a proposed a tax rate of $1.26 per $100 of property value, consisting of $1.04 for maintenance/operations and 22 cents for debt service.
This rate is a 15-cent increase from last year’s rate of $1.11 per $100 of property value.
The proposed budget will be published in the Killeen Daily Herald Saturday and will be implemented Sept. 1 if it is adopted at the public hearing next week.
The proposed fiscal year 2019 budget also accounts for a much deliberated 2 percent pay increase for teachers and other Killeen Independent School District Staff.
The pay raise would increase KISD’s starting teacher salary from $46,500 to $47,000 and provide teachers with $100 each for classroom supplies, along with a $50 warehouse certificate for new teachers, said Terry Abbott, KISD chief communications officer in an Aug. 14 news release.
The board also deliberated about five different potential 2019 health plans for employees at Tuesday’s meeting.
Alamo Insurance Group, which conducted comparisons of various plans on behalf of the district, recommended plans through Baylor, Scott & White.
“Baylor, Scott & White Health Plans provided, by far, the most competitive financial proposal while maintaining the current benefit structure,” said Greg Coldewey, senior vice president of Alamo. “The rates to be charged at 0.77 percent under the current rates overall.”
According to Abbott, the Killeen ISD administration was able to negotiate a plan the district’s nearly 7,000 employees that is more than 9 percent under last year’s cost for employees and includes a one-month waiver of premiums.
“The vast majority of employees will see a net increase in take-home pay due to lower rates, and all participants will have one month with no payroll deduction for the health plan, which will save employees between $10.17 and $1,754.25, depending on the plan and tier of coverage selected,” Abbott said in a separate news release.
Despite the apparent savings, some employee groups at the meeting questioned whether there would be unforeseen health care costs, even in the proposed plan with Scott & White.
Sherry Miller, spokeswoman for Killeen Classroom Teachers’ Association and curriculum and instruction chairperson for the Texas Classroom Teachers’ Association, thanked the board for the salary and classroom expense increases, but said employees had concerns about the rates and costs not covered by the insurance plan.
“Baylor, Scott & White has submitted a proposal with a small decrease in the insurance premiums along with a one month release from insurance payments,” Miller said. “Although on the surface this may sound like a good incentive, KISD employees want to make sure that the plans will provide what is needed to meet their medical needs.”
Miller said the concern with Scott & White has never been the level of care, but with out-of-network costs and availability for KISD employees to receive care as they travel.
According to Rick Beaulé, president of the Killeen Educators Association, determining health care coverage and providers has become an increasingly difficult task, forcing many districts to use money as a primary factor in those determinations.
“We have been consistent in bringing the needs of our members and KISD employees to the attention of both the KISD Board of Trustees and the community,” he said. “Though we remain concerned as to the potential out-of-network impact, Killeen Educators Association recognizes and thanks the board for its efforts and are appreciative of the savings being passed on to its employees.”
The board ultimately elected to contract Scott & White for the proposed 2019 employee health care plan.
In other business Tuesday, Teresa Daugherty, KISD director for assessment and accountability, gave a report on the Texas Education Agency grades issued to the district and campuses as part of the statewide accountability assessment.
“All campuses met standard and the district received a rating of ‘C,” Daugherty said.
The TEA accountability system assesses campuses based on three domains and assigns a rating of “Met Standard” or “Improvement Required,” along with an A through F letter grade to districts.
“I want to reiterate, we are pretty proud of our campuses,” said Superintendent John Craft. “We will work to improve where we feel like we can improve, but we won’t lose focus on what’s important and that’s making sure our students are receiving a well rounded, high quality education.”
The TEA will publicly release accountability assessment scores Aug. 15 and the Killeen Daily Herald will publish further information on local district and campus grades.
District officials also discussed the July 22 resignation of board member Carlyle Walton and deliberated potential courses of action to fill the vacant board seat.
Since more than one year remains in the term, the board must fill the vacancy no later than 180 days after the vacancy occurred.
To do so, the board has two options: to appoint a trustee or to order a special election to be held Nov. 6, according to an agenda document.
Aug. 20 is the deadline to order a special election, which would require the district to procure voting machines and all necessary elements.
“A special election doesn’t seem to be very practical,” said Board Member Marvin Rainwater.
“We’ve already missed several deadlines, so we’re going to create some type of prostituted election process,” said Board President Corbett Lawler.
“It sounds like there needs to be an agenda item on the 28th,” Craft said of the deliberation. “It sounds like we need to bring the item back for further consideration.”
The board moved to reschedule consideration of the potential courses of action at the next meeting.
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