Lubbock ISD Board approves $245 million budget for upcoming scho - FOX34 Lubbock

Lubbock ISD approves budget, sets same property tax rate as last year

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

With a lot of variables still up in the air, Lubbock ISD has approved a $245 million balance sheet for the upcoming school year, an increase of $5 million over last year.

The district is setting the same property tax rate as last year, at $1.235. The district points out this is the lowest property tax rate among Lubbock-area school districts.

Administrators are not sure how many students will be in class or how the state will pay out for attendance. The economic downturn means uncertainty on state funding and property tax revenue. 

This year's finances will not include pay raises across the board. Last year the district did at least a five percent raise for all non-administration employees. Employees on the Pay Step Program will get more money this upcoming year, based on how long they have been with the district.

"The board did vote to increase them to the next step and so there is, all of those people will actually get more money next year than they did this year," Superintendent Kathy Rollo said.

Some positions at the central office were cut, while other positions in instruction were added. One emphasis is special education. The district will hire 11 new teachers, plus another 20 teaching assistants. 

"A hiring freeze is not what we felt was the best interest of our students and meeting their needs and without cutting either positions or cutting programs that we offer our students, we just don't see how a raise is feasible in this budget," Rollo said. 

The previous E-3 Award Model is going away, but Lubbock ISD will participate in the Teacher Incentive Allotment, built in from HB-3. Teachers will be able to earn additional award money funded by the state if the requirements are met and academic progress with students is shown. 

The district will also administer a state exam at the beginning of the school year. It will be used to identify gaps left over from remote learning during the spring. 

 

The district issued to following statement Thursday afternoon: 

This morning's regular board and workshop meeting of the Lubbock ISD Board of Trustees included hiring announcements, approval of the 2020-2021 budget, program updates, and student recognition.

Raina Torres was named the new principal of Harwell Elementary School. She has served as the assistant principal at Harwell since 2014. Prior to her assistant principal assignment, she was an instructional coach at Bean Elementary School. Raina began her teaching career in Lubbock ISD as a dual language teacher at Harwell in 2003. She earned a bachelor of arts in Spanish and Latin American and Iberian Studies and a master of education degree in bilingual education from Texas Tech University. She also has a master's degree in educational leadership from Lubbock Christian University.

Lisa Thompson was announced as the new Executive Director of Payroll and Benefits. She comes to Lubbock ISD from the Lubbock Heart Hospital, where she has been the acting Chief Operating Officer since October 2019. Thompson has more than 30 years of experience in a variety of oversight, compliance, management, and operations experience, to name a few.

Trustees also approved the 2020-21 budget that balances the educational needs of the district's students with financial uncertainties brought about by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. The adopted budget of approximately $245.4 million is an increase of approximately $5.3 million dollars over the 2019-20 budget. The tax rate remains unchanged at $1.235, the lowest rate in the Lubbock area.

The budget includes a pay increase for all employees who are compensated on the district's step schedules. Those employees include, but are not limited to, teachers, nurses, librarians, counselors, diagnosticians, and LSSPs (Licensed Specialist for School Psychology). Step increases are calculated based on an employee's years of experience as a certified teacher documented by their State of Texas Service Record.

The adopted budget is in compliance with state requirements concerning school district budget adoption (TEC 44.002). Lubbock ISD's budget cycle runs July 1 through June 30.

The budget increase is being utilized to increase support for the instructional needs of the district. The district reduced funding in operations in order to provide for these additional positions:

• 11 Special Education teachers
• 20 Special Education aides
• 3 Reading Academy coaches
• 6 English Language Arts and Reading instructional coaches
• 7 Dyslexia specialists

Additional Counselors, Assistant Principals and Instructional Coaches for our middle schools

"These are unprecedented times and the action taken shows the desire to be fiscally responsible and conservative in regards to the future financial status of the district," said Lubbock ISD Superintendent Dr. Kathy Rollo.

"Last year, trustees approved a raise that was more than twice what was established by HB3. We provided a minimum of 5% raise for all non-administration employees and a 3% increase for administrators," she said. "Pay increases become a permanent part of a school district's budget. There is uncertainty about the funding from the state and property taxes due to the pandemic. We believe it is fiscally responsible to forgo an across the board pay increase at this time so we won't have to implement some type of furlough of employees, hiring freeze, or worst-case scenario, reduction in force in order to balance the budget in the event of reduced funding. We love our Lubbock ISD family and hold true to our goal to attract, develop, retain and reward highly effective teachers. This adopted budget reflects a desire to provide campus level support where needed and a desire to impact student needs in a fiscally responsible manner."

Cicely Alexander, executive principal for the Lubbock Partnership Network (LPN), provided her regular update to the board about the program. She emphasized the important work of administrators and teachers making contact with all students to continue providing academic and Social Emotional Learning support during the pandemic. Alexander also discussed planning for the upcoming year and conversations with the campus leadership teams to address how the campuses will meet and support the social and emotional needs of staff and students in this unique environment.

Lynn Akin, Assistant Superintendent for Student and School Support, provided a report based on a perception survey developed by Hanover Research. The online survey of students, parents, staff, and community was administered between February and March 2020. The intent of the survey was to gather feedback from district stakeholders, identify areas of needed improvement and access school community perceptions. More than 11,000 individuals participated in the survey focusing on the areas of the school/building environment, the academic environment, social environment and stakeholder inclusiveness.

Student recognition rounded out the meeting with an outdoor ceremony to recognize all five state-qualifying Lubbock ISD high school academic decathlon teams and the Lubbock High School mock trial team, who brought home the highest ranking in district history for their performance at the Texas High School Mock Trial Competition this spring.

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