Denton school board to consider budget proposal

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Denton school officials are proposing the school board adopt a budget in which general fund expenses total more than $208.6 million. District officials are projecting general fund revenues for the 2013-14 year to total more than $204.3 million, resulting in a $4.3 million budget deficit, which officials anticipate absorbing with general fund reserves, healthy tax collections and an increase in student enrollment.

The board will consider the proposed budget today. The district’s new fiscal year begins July 1.

District officials have said the budget deficit is a result of growth needs.

According to district documents, the district projects a 904-student increase, or 3.57 percent, for the 2013-14 school year.

The 2013-14 expenses are nearly $11.8 million, or nearly 6 percent, more than costs for the 2012-13 year, according to district documents.

Additional expenses added to the 2013-14 budget include more than $3 million designated for staffing expenses at the new Bettye Myers Middle School opening this fall in Shady Shores and $9.5 million in personnel increases — salaries account for nearly 85 percent of the district’s overall general fund budget. Non-personnel expenses in the general fund budget total $2.3 million.

According to budget documents, the district has designated $5 million for a salary compensation plan.

At a June 11 meeting, a representative with the Texas Association of School Boards presented the school board with a compensation study in which salaries are driven by current market trends.

The study compared salaries from the Denton school district with several districts in the area that employees could apply to work for without having to move. The district’s salaries were also compared with the Economic Research Institute, Kenexa, CompAnalyst, the Mercer 2012 Benchmark Survey, the Texas Workforce Commission and other public-sector employers.

It was recommended the board:

Implement a 25-step hiring schedule for new teachers.

Increase the starting salary for teachers without experience to $48,000 with a general pay increase of $1,200 every year for teachers.

Eliminate separate salary structures; pay stipends for teachers with master’s and doctoral degrees; and include counselors, diagnosticians and other professionals on the administrative pay schedule.

Include those stipends in the employees’ base pay.

Offer general 2 percent pay increases for all other employees.

The district paid new teachers hired with no experience $47,600 for the 2012-13 year, according to study documents.

Other recommendations included adjusting the pay for some professionals who are required to hold a master’s degree, reimbursing employees for mileage rather than offering travel stipends, and replacing the existing pay structures at the administrator and professional, information technology, clerical and paraprofessional and auxiliary levels.

Pay increase guidelines presented with the recommendations stated that employees in the same pay grade receive the same amount in increases.

Following a market-driven salary structure, the district would need to re-evaluate the market annually, said Richard Valenta, assistant superintendent for human resources.

Not consistently doing that “creates a situation overtime where employees’ compensation can fall below the market,” he said.

Superintendent Jamie Wilson said such a structure would allow the district to provide a compensation plan that is “fair, equitable and just.” It would be transparent, and employees will be able to know and understand how pay is figured, he said.

Charles Stafford, board president, said the competitive salary structure will allow the district to recruit and retain high-quality employees.

“We will be able to position ourselves very strategically because of the data ... provided to us,” he said. “It’s a way to make sure all through a person’s career that it keeps them at a level that’s competitive with [the] private industry and the education market in the metroplex.”

According to district documents, school officials project a $478,527 surplus in the debt service fund. Revenue for the fund, which the district uses to pay down debt expenses from bond projects, is expected to total more than $51 million, and expenses in the fund are projected to total more than $50.6 million.

Those expenses include payment for $45 million in bonds the school board recently approved for land purchase, construction of a 22nd elementary school and planning costs for a fourth high school, said Debbie Monschke, district executive director of budget and finance.

Child nutrition revenue and expenses are projected to break even at more than $9 million, according to district documents.

District officials are proposing the district property tax rate remain at $1.49 per $100 valuation. The tax rate will be set at a future board meeting, according to district documents.

Tonight’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the Dennis E. Stephens Central Administration Building, 1307 N. Locust St.

To view a copy of the proposed budget, visit http://bit.ly/18bnU1w .

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.

 


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