The Mission Consolidated Independent School District Board of Trustees has approved a $182.9-million budget for the 2017-2018 school year, an increase of $2.8 millon from the previous year’s budget.
The budget, approved during a board meeting June 28, includes a $1,000 annual pay increase for teachers, nurses, special education pathologists and other professionals along with a 2 percent pay hike for all other employees, according to Rumalda Ruiz, the school district’s assistant superintendent for finance.
Ruiz said the largest expenditure, $83.7 million, is designated for salaries, supplies “and anything relating to student instruction.” And of the $182.9 million, $10.4 million will be used to pay down bonds during the coming school year, Ruiz said.
Ruiz told board members the budget increase is due in part to a 1.32 percent anticipated student enrollment increase next year bringing the average daily attendance to 14,490 students, up from 14,366 in the 2016-2017 school year. Ruiz attributed the majority of the increase to the addition of 430 Head Start elementary school students who will enjoy dual enrollment next year as MCISD and Head Start students, Ruiz said.
Because of the bond refinancing in recent years, the district was able to lower its tax rate next year by nearly a penny to $1.35 per $100 of assessed valuation, Ruiz said.
The budget includes the hiring of 14 school resource officers for the district’s elementary schools at a cost of $268,560, Ruiz said. Currently only district high schools and junior high schools have SROs. The district plans to create its own police force in the upcoming year, said Superintendent Dr. Ricardo Lopez, adding the district is still in the application and planning process. In the meantime the district will continue to contract with surrounding law enforcement agencies to provide SROs for the school district’s junior high schools and high schools, he said.
Some of the other expenditures Ruiz detailed that night are the addition of four choir teachers for the district’s four junior high schools at a cost of $187,000; four new special education teachers to decrease the teacher-student ratio in special education classes at a cost of $235,144; the addition of two elementary school counselors, and two “Go Center” counselors who will assist high school seniors apply for college scholarships at a cost of $267,587; the addition of 11 new teachers for the Head Start pupils at a cost of $514, 250 and another $187,000 for an additional four teachers to instruct dyslexic students.
In his executive letter to the board Lopez also noted the district plans to spend $1.1 million on additional school buses. And he noted the district plans to spend $11.23 million in the upcoming year on construction projects including $1.14 million for the Mission High School cafeteria; $8 million on the Tom Landry Stadium, $770,000 renovating the North Side Swimming Pool; $760,000 on tennis court lighting and canopies at Mission and Veterans Memorial High Schools; $350,000 for air conditioning units at Mission Junior High and $110,727 on school marquees.
Lopez and Ruiz told the board the district included the teacher pay increase after Governor Greg Abbott announced he would ask lawmakers to mandate school districts increase teacher pay by $1,000 during a special legislative session he has called for next month. Abbott indicated he expects school districts to implement the pay increases without additional state funding. The two administrators said teachers will receive the pay increase even if lawmakers approve a less than $1,000 annual pay hike.
According to district budget documents, starting salaries for beginning teachers next year will be $47,500. Teachers with a master’s degree or higher can earn an additional $1,250 with some special area instructors earning an additional $3,000 annually. Teachers who are also coaches or extra curricular activity sponsors can also earn additional pay.
Ruiz said during a break for an executive session funding for the construction projects will come from the $59.71 million estimated general fund balance. During a June 7 budget workshop Ruiz said the district has also saved more than $16 million over the past two years by refinancing the district’s bond debt at lower interest rates.
“Based on projections the district should be able to afford the teacher pay increase from the budget,” Ruiz said.
District hires new administrators
In other business the school board approved the hiring of Leal Elementary School Assistant Principal Araceli Escalona as the new Alton Elementary School principal.
The board also approved the hiring of Cynthia Salinas as assistant principal of O’Grady Elementary School. Salinas currently works for the La Joya ISD said MCISD spokesman, Craig Verley. And the board approved the hiring of Idalia Flores of the Progresso ISD to become counselor at Veterans Memorial High School.
At the end of the board meeting Superintendent Lopez announced next year’s school district logo will be, “Mission CISD, changing the world,” from the current logo of, “Mission CISD, unlocking your dreams.”