Board Briefs - Sept. 23, 2013
Board of Trustees meeting information link: https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicAgenda.aspx?ak=101920&mk=50093149
Terrific news about financial gifts, grants and district awards was announced during the Sept. 23 regular monthly meeting of the Spring Branch ISD Board of Trustees. In addition, Trustees voted unanimously to adopt a tax rate for a fifth year in a row that will maintain the same combined or total rate.
Leaders of the Spring Branch Education Foundation (SBEF) presented a record-setting check to the district for student and school programs. Thirty-five grants valued at up to $500 for individuals or $750 for teams were awarded during the 24th annual J. Landon Short Mini-grants for Educators presentation. In addition, SBISD Finance and Grants departments won separate national or state awards for excellence in their operations areas.
In other meeting action, a second public hearing was held on the proposed 2013 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 tax rate has now remained the same for five years.
Leaders with the Spring Branch Education Foundation presented a record-setting symbolic check representing gifts and scholarship awards totaling $664,163 for the past fiscal year. This year’s total marked a new fund-raising record for this organization, which is celebrating its 20th year amid the news that the Foundation’s Fund for the Future has reached a $1 million endowment goal.
The symbolic check was presented to Trustees by SBEF Chairman Mike Rome and by group Executive Director Cece Thompson. “It’s been a great ride,” Chairman Rome said. “The Spring Branch Education Foundation is one of the most passionate boards in the United States. We just passed a $1 million goal on our endowment . . . now we need to get to $2 million.”
Since its establishment, the Foundation has provided more than $7 million in financial support to teachers and students in SBISD. To support these programs, the Foundation sponsors many annual and special fund-raising events.
In a separate presentation, 35 stipends valued at up to $500 for individual teachers and up to $750 for teaching teams were awarded to 60 educators and campus teaching teams during the 24rd 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 $19,000 was awarded to our teachers through gifts from Nexen, the Spring Branch Education Foundation and First Community Credit Union, as well as through the permanent endowment of The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation. A pre-meeting reception was held for all teachers who won grants this year.
For the fourth year in a row, the SBISD Finance Department has earned a Gold Leadership Circle Award from the state Comptroller’s Office for financial transparency. For the next year, the award insignia will be posted on the district’s website, the Board of Trustees’ and Finance Dept. web pages.
Also for a fourth year, the SBISD Finance Department has earned the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association, the leading professional group in North America. High marks were earned for budget documents serving as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide and a communications device. This association operates the only national awards program in governmental budgeting.
Finally, the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting has been awarded once again to the Finance Department by the Government Finance Officers Association. The top award was issued for the district’s comprehensive annual report (CAFR). SBISD’s Financial Department is led by Associate Superintendent Karen Wilson.
In separate awards news, SBISD Grants Director Julie Hodson and ACE Grant Coordinator Jose Herrera were recognized for two state honors. Director Hodson was recognized by the Texas Education Agency and Edvance Research Inc. during the recent annual Golden ACE (Afterschool Centers on Education) Awards Ceremony as the Top Administrator in Texas among 21st Century, Cycle 7, grantees. She was honored for her great grant management among dozens of grant-awarded groups and organizations across the state.
The SBISD Cycle 7 Texas ACE Team, which includes Coordinator Jose Herrera, earned the 2013 PRIME Award for the region that includes Dallas, Houston and East Texas. A majority of principals and teachers reported that the after-school programs in SBISD improved student academic skills. Programs that serve about 3,000 students on 10 SBISD campuses won satisfaction ratings of 91 percent from parents and 100 percent from principals.
Tax Rate Remains Unchanged for Fifth Straight Year
Following a second public hearing on the proposed 2013 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 fifth 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 five years old; the $1.09 General Fund Tax Rate has been maintained for seven 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 $2,330.
Property values in Spring Branch have increased this year by 6 percent, but district revenues have not increased under the state’s current school financing plan. By current law, the State of Texas funds less so that school revenues don’t increase. The Texas Legislature met earlier this year, but it did not change the basic operation of this funding plan. Legislators will meet again in January 2015.
In other action, the Board of Trustees:
- Adopted Local Policies on Other Revenues, Investments and Employee Welfare, Freedom from Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation
- Approved numerous Consent Agenda items, including the Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Calendar and Request to the Texas Education Agency for the Maximum Class Size Exception