FISD plans new Schools, staff raises and lower tax rate

During its regular June 24, 2019 meeting, the Forney Independent School District Board met and in summary: viewed very early plans for new schools, adopted raises for employees, plans to lower tax rate.

  • Held a 60-minute facilities workshop, discussing proposed combination middle and intermediate school.  Dr. Terry stressed this is a very early stage of pre-design.  Huckabee staff Gary and Kip showed the draft-mode plans.  They stressed this is still a very fluid design, there will be many steps of revision to come. 
        The proposal is a combined campus of Middle and Intermediate schools; phase 1 will be a middle school plus the infrastructure and shared items, so phase 2 will be smaller.  This is on the newly acquired property on FM740, which can easily hold this plus a future HS and maybe an elementary.  The FISD will have to pay for 1/2 of two roads into the property, roads are on city thoroughfare plan.  A gas line will be in median of the road.  Dr. Terry said they plan for the main entrance to come off Ranch Road.  There will be a football field in back, concessions and restrooms will be part of the main building.  Dining and library sections will be shared, middle school gym will be built first, also an emergency shelter large enough for both schools.  "Learning stairs" will lead from dining area up to library.  Phase two will occur when attendance requires it.  The spaces are modular and flexible, can be adjusted in future.  There will be flex-labs with sinks, for science or art.  Both wings have space for additional future classrooms.  There will be 2 elevators.  Along Cotton Patch road, might have walk and bike trails.  The green-space between two wings could be used for community events.

        Construction could begin in 2020 with occupancy in fall 2021.  Von G. said might save $3 million by combining schools, just the kitchen and shelter are big savings. They discussed future traffic issues, working with developers about roads, Ranch Rd might be expanded to 4 lanes.  Dr. Terry estimates will save $10 million by building the shared facilities this early (and avoiding inflationary costs).  The capacity of new schools should be equal to a equivalent current campus.  Forney City staff have attended some design meetings.

  • Held Public Hearing -
    • 2019-2020 Budget
          Mr. John Chase, Chief Financial Officer said the year has been a challenge with TX legislature meeting.  Usually have already had workshops and salary schedules by this time of year.  Had one workshop in April, he provided updated document last week.  Budget starts with enrollment - demographer updates every year, expect 5.7% increase each year.  Based on increase of 755 students.  Ended 2018 w/ 11,300 - expect 11,888 next year.  Appraisals: having an active protest period, about 15% total under protest.  Final certification in July.  18.7% increase is reasonable estimate.  Last 5 years, most growth in SF, plus $500 mil in commercial.  AG value is in decline.  Estimated revenue - $135.5 mill, appropriations is $126 mil.  Property tax & state aid = 98% of income.  76% of budget is payroll, usually near 80% but have funds for capital project.  Old state funding was $5,140 per student, now $6,160.  Some values were coupled to Austin ISD, not now.  Tax rate is 1.54, required to compress by 7 cents to 1.47.  45% of revenue from local sources, $3.4 mil more in 2020.  State aid will be up by $19 mill, because of increased enrollment and the $6.4 million underpayment this year.
          Expenses - HB 3 requires new teacher payments, which FISD will exceed.  Average increase is 5.1%, up to $3300 for some.  Food service and custodial up 9%, up to $10 / hr.  Most staff will increase 3%.  Will continue 1% retention plan.  Will add 101 staff positions.  Re-roofing Criswell for $863k, in July will have to amend budget to roll over funds.  Items for fire panels, buses, student tech chromebook lease, still paying for wireless upgrade from 5 years ago.  General fund - surplus about $6 mill, same as underpayment.  At end of 2020 still have 3 months operating fund.  Income up 26.6%, expenses up 6.9%, which includes employee raises.
          Food service expenses and income both up 9.2%.
          Debt service - 100% from property tax & interest.  Income up 16.7%, expenses 13.6% - called some bonds, payments will occur in Aug.  Must carry fund balance to make Feb. payments.  Balance is $24 mill, August payment will be $13.4 mill.  Ran tax rate notice in paper, are allowed to set lower rate than published.
          Ms. Dobbs asked about health insurance - believes family plan increased $30, about 3-4%.  Mr. Carroll asked if state payments more equal - Mr. Chase said property value won't have lag any more; used to have cost of education value, has been stripped from formula.  If in top quartile for growth, get a bonus.  Also a transition aid - will be about $3 mill.
          There was no public input.

  • Public Comment - none
  • Monthly Financial Report
        Mr. Chase said close to last years percentages.  Cash on hand: $72 million, large reserve for capital projects.
  • Approved as one consent item:
    • Cisco ISE Purchase
    • Life Anew Purchase

  • Approved 2018-2019 budget amendments
        Mr. Chase said last one for Fiscal Year: revenue up $560k, state revenue down by 945k, total just under 300k.  Debt service: increased payroll costs.  Budget deficit for year $6.9 mill, $6.4 mill underpayment is accounting issue.  $2.8 mill was funds for construction, $2.9 for building upgrades.  Dr. Terry said it's been a good year.
  • Approved the 2019-2020 budget.
        Mr. Chase repeated revenue of $135.5 expenses $126.4 mil.  Dr. Terry commended Mr. Chase for getting this done in short time.  $1 mill for safety, 3.9% for all employees, money for future projects, all with reducing tax rate.  Dr. Terry stressed if bond election approved, "tax rate would remain lower at $1.47, even through the sale of bonds."
  • Approved the 2019-2020 employee compensation plan.
        Mr. Chase said retitled some positions, pay grades on others; custodial & food service about 8%, aides 4%, most everyone else got 2%.  Teachers - minimum increase $1,600, most are $1,800 to $3,300.
  • Approved re-adopting annual board goals.
        Dr. Justin Terry, Superintendent said in 2014 had forward focus process yielded 6 goals, revisited focus 2.0.  current 6 goals working well, suggest re-adopt them.
  • Approved the design schematic and budget for the third middle/intermediate school
        Ms. Judy Webber, Chief of Learner Services presented design and cost of $102 million.  Dr. Terry recommended approval.
  • the 2019-2020 TASB delegate/alternate selection
        Mr. Greg Pharris, School Board President requested nominations - Mr. Carroll and Mr. Regan as alt.
  • Held a 20-minute executive session re: the Ratification of Employment of Professional Contract Personnel
  • Approved ratification of employment of professional contract personnel as presented in closed session.
  • Monday, August 19 - First Day of School
  • Adjourned at 2025
Monday, 2019, June 24