Coppell Gazette > News
Initial budget talks bring more money for Coppell ISD teachers, faculty
As students slip into swim suits and gear up for summer, administrators are rolling up their sleeves to get to work on the most complex issue of the summer -- the budget.
The Coppell ISD Board of Trustees began its first discussions of the season last Tuesday and started off with a bang.
"The board did approve a 3 percent increase for our staff," said Tamerah Ringo, Director of Communications and Public Relations for the district.
Ringo said nearby districts were also giving raises but only by 2 or 2.5 percent.
"There is not very many doing what we are doing with the 3 percent," she said. "The board just stepped out and said, 'We want to send a message that we appreciate what they are doing, we appreciate their staff and we think we can continue to manage our fund balance, run this district conservatively and be able to thank them and reward them in that way.'"
The increase was a welcome relief after the board voted to forgo pay increases last school year.
"They attributed [the decision to increase staff pay] to being financially healthier this year than we were two years ago," Ringo said. "Part of [the ability to give raises] is some long-range planning by board members. They passed up on a raise last year because the legislative session was as mess and with the deep budget cuts made by the state, the board just didn't want to put us in a position where we would end up being in a bind."
The board has also approved a request to bring in an additional 16 teaching positions as well as new administrative positions in key areas after increasing the class sizes to the state mandate.
"If things keep going well, we think we will be able to get those [numbers] back down so we can get more manageable class sizes," Ringo said.
Last fall, the district passed a tax rate increase, which Ringo said was essential.
"That's the only way we would be able to generate additional funding other than acquiring new students -- which we did have new students last year added on to our enrollment rolls," she said. "Those kids brought some extra funding through open enrollment to the tune of about $360,000 last year. Then other move-ins that came during the regular course of the year."
Current student enrollment is pushing 10,700 students for the district after the district opened its doors to students immediately outside its boundaries. Ringo said Coppell Greens, among other areas, lobbied the board for years asking for inclusion.
"It had to be a convergence a good timing issue for the district to be able to do so and it just so happened that last year was the first year," Ringo said. "We are always looking for ways to do more with less, be more efficient. The open enrollment process was all about efficiencies. We had seats available in classrooms sitting on the north end of our school district not filled. We were going to have a teacher in the room anyway so if it is not filled then why wouldn't open up the class to hold more students if you could. That's the additional revenue that it generated that we hadn't planned on. That was a smart move by the board.
The board is approving open enrollment again for next year, Ringo said, and is addressing the program on a year-to-year basis.
"When you can generate additional income like that, you can afford yourself some more opportunities -- whether it's saving existing programs, saving some teaching positions and maybe even giving a little increase every now and then." Ringo said.
For residents looking to get more involved in the district, facility subcommittees were developed last year to study facility needs throughout the district and beginning this fall, the district will be looking for members.
"We are probably going to have two committees and we will be calling on assistance from the community," Ringo said. "One will be looking at what we want schools to look like in the future and the other will focus on bond campaigns where we would actually have to go out for the funding to support adding those additional facilities."
Ringo suspects the district will begin forming committees in late August or early September.
The board will hold two more budget workshops before approving the final budget in July.
"Some things you can do in school finance you may not be able to do so in the business world," Ringo said. "We will always be looking at ways to generate additional revenue, be more efficient and make cuts that are not close to the classroom. We want to make cuts that will have the least affect on the kids."
The next scheduled board meeting is set for 6:30 p.m., June 30. For information visit coppellisd.com.
Copyright © 2013 - Star Local News