District adopts budget, tax rate

The Wills Point ISD Board of Trustees continued with what has already been a busy month on Tuesday night, holding their regular monthly meeting after two special called meetings  Aug. 3 and Aug. 7.

Business this week settled on several key talking points, including adopting a budget and tax rate for the upcoming year after a brief hearing lead by Assistant Superintendent of Operations and Student Services Damon Davis, and receiving the latest state and local accountability from the district from Assistant Superintendent of Instruction and Accountability Amanda Wallace.

Davis, who had assumed the duties of superintendent following Suzanne Blasingame’s resignation last month, explained to trustees that a tax rate of 1.144 (1.04 for maintenance and operations, and .104 for the interest and sinking fund) had been proposed.

Due to the district’s decision to refund bonds with Southwest Securities, at a savings of $107,427 to taxpayers, the proposed tax rate had now been lowered to 1.13706 (1.04 for maintenance and operations, and .09706 for the interest and sinking fund).

Davis addressed another talking point from a budget workshop that preceded the July meeting regarding teacher salaries.

Then Superintendent Suzanne Blasingame explained to trustees at that time, “As far as salary goes, the Wills Point ISD salary schedule was increased for teachers, counselors, nurses and librarians in 2013-’14. We tried to make it more competitive with surrounding districts. It’s really hard west of Wills Point to compete, but we were almost lined up with Mabank and Kaufman, but when we increased our salary schedule they did the same thing. We can compete east of Wills Point with salaries...Now to increase our local salary schedule…it would add an additional $160,000 to our budget.”

Trustees requested at that time that the proposed budget should be analyzed to see if the funds to cover the $160,000 without taking away from instructional funds.

Davis announced that, thanks to the efforts of Director of Finance Mary Sanderson and Assistant Superintendent of Instruction and Accountability Amanda Wallace, the proposed budget reflected the district’s request. Cuts, according to Davis, came from a wide range of areas, including budgeting for lower fuel expenditures, less for maintenance, and cutting items not mandated to the WPISD due to size among others.

Board President C.W. Wilson commended the efforts made by Davis, Sanderson and Wallace for their hard work and ability to meet the requested goal.

Amanda Wallace followed Davis’ report with a detailed examination of the most recent state and local accountability ratings.

Wallace opened by explaining the state’s accountability system, including a reminder that schools are no longer rated on a scale ranging from exemplary, recognized, academically acceptable and academically unacceptable. There are now two ratings, with one identifying schools as either having “met standard” or “improvement required.”

In order to earn the “met standard” designation, schools and districts need to hit targets in student achievement or student progress, as well as closing performance gaps and postsecondary readiness. 


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