Argyle school budget gets OK

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ARGYLE — The Argyle school board has approved the 2012-13 budget with a shortfall of a little more than $516,000.

The board approved the budget in a 6-0 vote this week. According to district officials, the budget reflects finance projections as they currently stand.

“I think that’s what the taxpayers need to see, as we stand today, and they can elect to change that,” board President Kevin Faciane said. “It’s what we’ve been anticipating the last several months, and it will be a deficit budget unless the TRE [tax ratification election] is approved.”

The school district will hold the election Sept. 15, when voters will decide on a 6 cent maintenance and operations tax rate increase to $1.10005 per $100 valuation. Since the district is asking for a maintenance and operations tax rate above $1.04, it’s required the district get voter approval.

In turn, the board has adopted a 4 cent decrease in the interest and sinking rate to fund bond indebtedness, leaving the overall tax rate at $1.48005, or a net increase of 2 cents per $100 valuation, district officials have said.

Liz Stewart, the district’s chief financial officer, said if the tax increase passes, the board will amend the budget to reflect the additional revenue generated by the higher tax rate. The interest and sinking rate will remain the same regardless of the election’s outcome, she said.

Faciane said he’s comfortable budgeting what the district has today and amending the budget if the rate increase passes.

Superintendent Telena Wright said that if the measure fails, the district would make up the difference from its reserve fund.

The new fiscal year begins Sept. 1.

General fund expenditures are expected to total nearly $15.3 million — 1 percent less than the current year’s budget, Stewart said.

The cuts included the elimination of two full-time positions and reductions to campus and department budgets.

Revenue for the 2012-13 fiscal year is projected to total nearly $14.8 million, not including the extra money that would be generated by the proposed tax rate increase.

If voters approve the tax increase, Stewart said it could generate an additional $583,000 in revenue and would create a more than $66,000 surplus for the district.

Built into the budget is projected revenue the district intends to gain by accepting students through its limited open enrollment program.

The district earlier this summer announced that 100 pre-kindergarten to eighth-grade students had been accepted through the program, tuition-free.

On Monday, Wright told the board that about 20 students have opted not to enroll in the district under the limited open enrollment program.

Of those students, seven have moved into the district, she said.

Other families cited transportation and one sibling being accepted for limited open enrollment while another was not as some of their reasons for not enrolling for the 2012-13 year through limited open enrollment, she said.

Stewart said there’s no way of knowing how many students show up until after the first few weeks of school.

The 2012-13 budget is built on an average daily attendance of 1,755 students and includes students enrolled through the district’s limited open enrollment program.

It includes step increases for employees on the teacher salary scale and a 1.5 percent pay increase for all other employees totaling an estimated $112,000 increase in payroll expenses, according to district documents.

A reduction in public education funding approved during the 82nd Texas legislative session last year equated to an estimated $900,000 cut in state funding allocated to Argyle for the 2011-12 year and an additional $460,000 estimated cut for the 2012-13 year, according to school district officials.

District officials have said that between the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years, enrollment decreased from 1,824 to 1,808, resulting in reduced revenue and an increase in the recapture payments Argyle pays back to the state, a method also known to some as Robin Hood.

As a property-wealthy district, Argyle returns money to the state in the form of recapture payments.

As the budget stands today, the district is projected to pay more than $434,000 in recapture payments for the 2012-13 year.

If the tax ratification election passes, that payment is $547,970.

Also adopted as part of the overall budget Monday was the debt service budget, which is projected to total more than $4.2 million in expenses and draw more than $4.19 million in local revenue.

The district plans to offset the difference from the reserve fund.

Estimates for the child nutrition budget are expected to break even at $792,825.

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876. Her e-mail address is btabor@dentonrc.com .

 


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