Board Briefs
News from the Spring Branch ISD Board of Trustees

Summary of Meeting

Board Briefs Sept.22, 2014

Board of Trustees Regular Meeting Agenda

Board Agenda:

Back-to-School News

Bright back-to-school news about financial gifts, educator grants and department awards was announced during the Sept. 22 regular monthly meeting of the Spring Branch ISD Board of Trustees.

Leaders of the Spring Branch Education Foundation (SBEF) presented a record-setting check of more than $924,000 to the district for student and campus-related programs.

Thirty-two grants valued at up to $500 for individuals or $750 for teams were awarded to 48 teachers during the 25th annual J. Landon Short Mini-grants for Educators presentation.

And in a separate recognition, SBISD’s Finance Department team was honored for earning several national and state awards for excellence in operations and public reporting.  

In other meeting action, a public hearing was held on the proposed 2014 tax rate. Later in the meeting, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to adopt a rate that maintains a combined or total tax rate of $1.3945 per $100 of assessed valuation. SBISD’s combined, or total, tax rate has now remained the same for six years.

Special Recognitions

Leaders with the Spring Branch Education Foundation presented a record-setting symbolic check for all its gifts and scholarship awards totaling $924,154 for the past fiscal year. This year’s total marked a new fundraising record for this 21-year-old, nonprofit educational support organization, one of the biggest in the state.

The symbolic check was presented to Trustees by SBEF Chairman Lisa Schwartz and by group Executive Director Cece Thompson. Since its start, the Foundation has provided more than $8 million to support teachers and students in SBISD. The Foundation sponsors numerous annual and special fund-raising events.

In a separate presentation, stipends valued at up to $500 for individual teachers and up to $750 for teaching teams were awarded to 48 educators or teaching teams during the annual J. Landon Short Mini-Grants for Educators presentation. Independent judges chose the winning competitive applications.

The Mini-Grants competition is named for lifelong education advocate and backer J. Landon Short, founding member of the SBISD Partners in Education Advisory Board. This annual grants competition is coordinated through the Community Relations Department. Coordinator for Strategic Partnerships & Volunteer Programs Abby Walker introduced the grant-winning projects and teachers.

About $16,750 was awarded this year to teachers through gifts from Nexen, SBEF and First Community Credit Union, as well as through the permanent endowment of The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation. A pre-event reception was held for all teachers who won grants this year.

For the fifth year in a row, the SBISD Finance Department has earned a Gold Leadership Circle Award from the state Comptroller’s Office for financial transparency. An award insignia will be posted on the district’s website, and on related web pages, during the year ahead.

Also for a fifth year, the Finance Department has earned the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association, or GFOA, the leading professional group in North America. This group sponsors and operates the only national awards program in governmental accounting. This award represents a high achievement and commitment to the highest principles of governmental budgeting. High marks were earned for the district’s budget document serving as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide and communications device.

In addition, the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting has been awarded once again to the Finance Department by the GFOA. The award was issued for the district’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, or CAFR.

For the third year, meanwhile, the Texas Association of School Business Officials (TASBO) has issued its Award of Merit for Purchasing and Operations to SBISD’s Purchasing Department. The TASBO award recognizes and honors state public school districts that are committed to following professional standards in acquisition of goods and services. Public school districts that earn this award are considered to be among the top innovators in their field.

SBISD’s Financial Department is led by Associate Superintendent Karen Wilson, Controller David Bender and Director of Accounting Tera Harris. The Purchasing Department is led by Director of Purchasing and Contracts Barbara Robillard.

Tax Rate Remains Unchanged for Sixth Straight Year

Following a public hearing on the proposed 2014 tax rate, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to adopt a tax rate that maintains a combined or total tax rate of $1.3945 per $100 of assessed valuation.

The tax rate vote maintains $1.09 as the General Fund Tax Rate for maintenance and operations, and $0.3045 for the sixth year in a row as the Debt Service Rate set for approved bond issues. Together, the combined or total tax rate of $1.3945 is six years old; the $1.09 General Fund Tax Rate has been maintained for eight consecutive years.

Spring Branch is one of the few school districts in Harris County to continue to give its local homeowners the 20 percent homestead exemption.

For the owner of a $200,000 home in Spring Branch qualifying for the full 20 percent homestead exemption, estimated school taxes will be about $2,022, or about the same as last year. By comparison, among Houston area school districts, average annual school taxes paid on a $200,000 home are now about $2,413, or about $100 more than last year.

Property values in Spring Branch increased significantly this year. While property values rose by about 12.6 percent this year, district revenues have not increased significantly under the state’s current school financing plan. Under current law, the State of Texas funds less if property values increase so that SBISD’s revenues don’t increase correspondingly.

Texas legislators are responsible for this funding plan which drains funds away from our local district. The Texas Legislature is scheduled to reconvene in Austin beginning in January 2016.

In other action:

  • Conducted First Readings on Local Policies on Student Activities, Travel and on TASB Policy Update 100
  • Approved numerous Consent Agenda items, including the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Calendar and Request to the Texas Education Agency for the Maximum Class Size Exception
  • Discussed a proposed schematic design and design development for Spring Branch Education Center’s Addition and Renovation Project
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