This article originally appeared in the Friday June 28, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.
The Mission Consolidated Independent School District board of trustees approved the 2019-2020 budget tax rate following a public hearing on Wed. June 26.
They also approved this school year’s compensation plan, which will provide “some of the largest raises and compensation adjustments in several years” according to a press release from the district.
This district had already posted the revised tax rate on their website in accordance with the mandate in House Bill 3, and it informs the taxpayers that the district will adopt a tax rate as mandated by law.
“The revised tax rate will be $1.2396 per $100 valuation, with the maintenance and operations decreasing from $1.17 to $1.0684, which is the highest rate that the district can have [in compliance with HB3],” Rumalda Ruiz, MCISD Assistant Superintendent for Finance said. “In this budget, the Hidalgo County Appraisal District estimated property values within our district boundaries to increase by about 3.19 percent, and most of those property value increases are mainly appraisals.”
Based on the district’s average daily attendance and the proposed tax rate, the revenues in the MCISD budget total estimated at $174,080,204. The expenditures for 2019-2020 are estimated to total at $174,135,204.
“The funds are balancing each other with revenues and expenditures,” Ruiz said. “And I do want to bring to your attention that we haven’t had a balanced budget – where revenues and expenditures offset each other – since 2015-2016.”
Ruiz said there were a lot of efforts from administration that took place in order to make the balanced budget possible. During her presentation, she spoke on the impact that the rate will have on property taxes on the average residence.
Before the revised tax rate, taxpayers would have seen greater increases per month, but thanks to the revised tax rate they will save more (ranging from $6 to $10 on average per month).
“The staff worked as a team taking the various studies that were conducted this year,” Superintendent Carol G. Perez said. “We were able to save over $4 million, which will go back to salary increases.”
Perez said that having a deficit in the budget was not an option, so the district had to “cinch the belt” and look at needs versus wants.
“However, once House Bill 3 finances become available, the focus will definitely be curriculum and instruction,” Perez said. “And we’ll be providing updates to the board through our committee meetings.”
Board President Charlie Garcia III congratulated the administration on behalf of the board.
“Dr. Perez, I know this is your first year, with the district, and I just want to congratulate you from the board,” Garcia said. “You’re doing a great job with bringing our finances within budget.”
Earlier this year, district administrators created a plan that provided for equity adjustments, a teacher pay increase of $1,100, a two percent of mid-point salary increase for all other employees, improvements in supplements, and a seven percent increase in the district’s contribution for employees to the health insurance plan. Dr. Perez said this was accomplished through $4 million in reductions in payroll costs attained through attrition and improved staffing efficiency.
After passage of House Bill 3, the district was able to make further improvements to the employee compensation plans as compared to what had been presented to the school board earlier in the budgeting process.
District employees on the School Program Professional Salary Schedule (teacher salary schedule) will see the following raises:
– Entry level salary increase of $3,000. Starting pay for new teachers to the district with no experience is $51,250. The maximum starting pay for new teachers to the district with 20+ years experience is $61,300.
– 1-5 years of experience: $3,500 or about 6.3 percent of the market median.
– 6+ years of experience: $4,000 or about 7.2 percent of the market median.
All other employees will now receive at least a 3 percent of mid-point salary increase. Pay will be improved with additional equity adjustments for teachers, nurses, and other staff on the School Program Professional Salary Schedule between 7 and 20 years of experience to reduce the pay gap compared to market pay and support recruitment of experienced teachers and nurses.