Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

August 28, 2013

Millsap ISD sees rise in revenue through two avenues

Increase in students and 83rd Legislature help district offer raises, up security and programs


Mineral Wells Index

— By LIBBY CLUETT



MILLSAP – Millsap ISD trustees met Monday and adopted a 2013-14 school year budget of $7.26 million, which reflects a rise from the 2012-13 budget of $6.73 million.

Superintendent David Belding attributed this to two factors – enrollment and the Texas Legislature.

MISD has seen an increase in students, which is one of only a few ways a district can raise revenue.

“We had a really nice enrollment increase to 737 [refined average daily attendance or RADA],” Belding explained of last year’s ending enrollment – a year in which the district budgeted for 700 students.

He said they built this school year’s budget off a RADA of 735.

Another positive for Millsap, and other school districts throughout the state, filtered down from legislative actions that took place last spring in Austin.

Belding said the Legislature partially restored the 2011 cuts. In the last biennium, the state cut $5.4 billion from public school education. Earlier this year, it restored $3.4 billion.

“What the Legislature did for us was huge,” Belding said.

While the state didn’t restore all the cuts, what they did “translates to a little more than $200,000 a year for our district,” he said. “I appreciate what they did for us.”

Belding admitted, though, that it would have been nice to have the entire amount restored.

With the additional funds, the district was about to give teachers and staff raises averaging at 3 percent.

“It’s the money from the Legislature that helped,” Belding noted.

He added that MISD will also be able to “hire consultants to work with us on Reading and Writing professional development for teachers.”

To improve security, the district will also be able to use the extra funds for “purchasing two-way radio systems to make sure we have good communication across our district,” he added. “We had these on the buses, but now administration, secretaries, the school resource officer and nurses will have them.”

On Monday, trustees also adopted a tax rate of $1.66 per $100 taxable value, which includes a maintenance-and-operations rate of $1.17 per $100 and an interest-and-sinking rate of 49.5 cents. This is the same rate as the previous year.

“We didn’t go up on taxes,” Belding said.

In other business Monday night trustees:

• Heard that the district’s three campuses increased by 31 students, for a total enrollment of 813. Belding said there are 389 enrolled at Millsap Elementary, 186 at the middle school and 239 at the high school.

He noted the largest increase is at the elementary, where enrollment rose by 21 students.

• Heard accountability ratings.

“All [Millsap campuses] met standard and that was exciting because they didn’t finalize this accountability system until late in the spring,” Belding said.

• The Millsap Afterschool Program begins next week. Belding said the middle school and high school theme this year is “Work Hard, Play Hard.” The program for the older MISD students not only helps them with tutoring and homework – the work hard portion – but also incorporates the concept of “play,” which he said is designed to students’ personal interests, hobbies and academic goals.

• Millsap will include a “Watchdogs” program, which Belding said focuses on getting fathers “to come up during the day and be a positive role model and an extra set of eyes and hands to provide extra security.”

He said the district will provide training and the dads wear “Watchdog” T-shirts.

While Belding said the program focuses on dads, he added they “will take anybody who wants to be involved.”

MISD will have a kickoff for the program on Monday, Sept. 16, for interested dads. He said that night they will have a “dad-and-student pizza night to roll out the program.”

• Heard a report from Coach/Athletic Director Ron Berry “on athletics and plans for moving teams forward,” Belding said, adding about the athletic programs, “We did a lot of restructuring last year.”

“We are going to a universal workout for boys and girls [involved in MISD sports], that way we are developing the kids physically,” Belding said, describing the program as “cross-fit training, helping them get faster, stronger and more agile.”

He said staff trained with a man in Killeen who designed the program, aligned for grades seven through 12. Belding said there are some changes in the high school program, for instance, the middle school students don’t use weights, but their program focuses on speed, agility and core training.

“It takes into consideration developmental readiness for age,” he explained, adding that the program also trains kids on what they need to do and why and it takes place during the athletic period. For instance, Belding said basketball players do the program with football players.

“We started with the boys last January and we saw a tremendous amount of improvement with them,” he noted.

He added that they were able to obtain equipment – some purchased and some built – that augments the program.