By Brian Besch
The Livingston Board of Trustees heard a facility presentation and approved a new salary instrument during Monday’s regular meeting for February.
Claycomb Architects Will Clayton and Richard Crump performed a district facility study, sharing findings with the board during a presentation. Clayton illustrated the historical and projected future enrollment of the district. After visiting all campuses, the calculation of the maximum capacity in the district is 5,780.
Pine Ridge Primary has a current enrollment of 485 students, with a capacity of 860 students. At Cedar Grove Elementary, the current enrollment is 485, while it has a maximum capacity of 800. There are 489 students attending Timber Creek Elementary, which has a maximum capacity of 800. Creekside Elementary has 484 students with room for 900. The junior high is currently over capacity, with an enrollment of 910 and capacity figured to be 820. Livingston High School has a capacity of 1,600, with 1,153 attending now.
“The value of facility study shows a district what they currently have, allows the district to determine their standards and needs, and determine the most efficient solutions and when to begin a project,” Claycomb’s Richard Crump said.
Clayton said that the useful lifespan of a building is an average of 60 years, while the lifetime of a roof is around 20 years.
“In 2014, when I joined LISD, our Annual Performance Report reflected that our fund balance had been invested on facility renovations,” LISD Superintendent Dr. Brent Hawkins said. “Our bond construction was coming to an end, and the board had a list of capital improvements that needed to be completed. We added tennis courts at Livingston High School, purchased the Baseball-Softball Complex, added lights at the junior high football field, built a track, and addressed the Bermuda grass practice areas, all without a bond. The solution to the dilemma that we faced of ‘making bricks without straw’ required creative knowledge of the Texas School Finance System. We were able to hold a tax ratification election, refinance bonds, and were able to fund these improvements without raising the tax rate. In fact, over the last seven years, we actually lowered the tax rate.
“In the last eight years, this district has worked hard to maximize the school finance system to do the most with the money available. This is a phenomenal success story that I would challenge anyone to show me a district that has made more strides to meet the facility needs of all our kids, while at the same time not raising the tax rate. Most districts would have had to pass a bond, but we have been able to squeeze the most out of every dollar to address our needs, and tonight includes considering making Livingston the most competitive pay scale in Deep East Texas.
“When you build a school facility, you want it to have a lifespan of 60 years, so we are working with the Claycomb representatives who created a long-range facility plan. Building school facilities is not the same as building residential facilities. Think about over the course of 60 years, the facility’s wear and tear far exceeds that of our homes. Thus, the construction of school facilities is different. We want to make sure that our district has a functional plan to address the growth and enhancements of our students to ensure they continue to be educated in facilities that the community can have great pride in.”
The finance committee recommended the approval of the 2022-2023 LISD Salary Instrument Hawkins mentioned, which was approved by the board. The 2022-2023 pay scale has a starting teacher salary of $55,000, a midpoint of $63,266, and maximum salary of $71,532. The salary instrument allows a 3% increase of the midpoint for other areas, which is in addition to the 4% retention bonus. Hawkins said the new pay scale makes Livingston ISD one of the top-paying districts in East Texas.
The second action item approved by the board was the approval of the emergency closure resolution, which keeps employees of the district from needing to make up the school closure from Feb. 8.
The board meeting opened with a public hearing on the LISD Texas Academic Performance Report (TAPR). Chief Curriculum Officer Janan Moore reviewed the scores reflected from the 2019-2020 school year, which included the COVID closure from mid-March to the end of the school year.
The consent agenda was approved, including the district staffing plan, a purchasing agreement, and the school calendar. The staffing plan allows the district to begin hiring a staff pool. Also included under the consent agenda was the Master Intergovernmental Cooperative Purchasing Agreement with Omnia Partners and the 2022-2023 LISD School Calendar.