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LISD tax rate, budget approved

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Ben Davidson LISD CFOBen Davidson LISD CFOThe Livingston Board of Trustees approved the budget, tax rate and additional leave for Covid-19 in a meeting Monday evening at Creekside Elementary.

The 2021-2022 proposed budget was presented by Livingston ISD Chief Financial Officer Ben Davidson. General fund revenues for 2021-2022 are projected at $40,207,901. Expenses are expected at $39,018,461 and LISD is anticipating a budget surplus at the end of the year. 

The funds are to be rolled into fund balance and earmarked for use to extend the initiatives funded by the ESSER program. Food service revenues are projected at $2,940,750 with expenses budgeted at $2,739,134. Debt service revenues and expenses are thought to be at $4,490,000, while instruction is budgeted at $22,174,705 with a 2% midpoint raise for all staff. The overall budget decreased from last year, as certain expenditures will be paid from federal ESSER funds. 

Dr. Brent Hawkins SuperintendentDr. Brent Hawkins SuperintendentDavidson also presented the LISD tax rate history, current rate and proposed tax rate for 2021-2022. The tax rate is currently 1.0545 for maintenance and operations and .255 for debt service, for a total of 1.3097 per $100 valuation. The tax rate proposed is 1.2369 per $100 valuation for the 2021-2022 budget cycle, which the board approved. The new rate is a drop of 5.5% from last year and the third consecutive year LISD has lowered the tax rate.

LISD Superintendent Dr. Brent Hawkins presented Covid-19 leave plan for staff that would add three days for those who need the time. 

“Our school district was very successful last year in combating COVID in that there was no confirmed school spread,” Hawkins said. “Little did we know what blocks the Delta variant would put in the way. The Delta variant is four times more contagious than the Alpha variant. This has been the most trying time, it is extremely difficult to keep the doors open to school. 

“The challenge with this phase of the virus is (that) the change in health guidance from the state prohibits the district from using the plan that was so successful last school year. We have a low substitute pool and it has left us very shorthanded and it’s been very tedious to keep moving forward. We have to control the things we can control as a district. The district has implemented every part of last year’s plan that is not prohibited from the state and stood up more safeguards this year as well. We have to continue to be flexible and look at our data. As I said earlier in our Facebook Live Hawk’s Talk, we are in dire times and cannot sustain this trajectory as a district or as a state public education community. It is important that our staff, students, and community work together to mitigate the virus, as the doors being open to our school are at risk.” 

All employees receive five state days and two district days off. The resolution, which was approved, provides three additional district days for staff to help employees who need to be isolated. The resolution is retroactive back to the first day of school for anyone who has been affected by the virus. 

The board accepted the recommendation designating Leslie Jones-Burks, Polk County Tax Assessor-Collector to collect property taxes for the LISD and to submit updated electronic data to Polk Central Appraisal District as required by the property tax code. Among the approved items under the consent agenda were personal property donations, a budget amendment, and overnight travel.

After reconvening from closed session, the board approved the superintendent’s recommendation to file a complaint with the State Board for Educator Certification on LISD teachers Megan Wood and Christi Cox.

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