Navarro ISD is welcoming the new school year with a hefty budget and lower tax rate.

The Navarro School Board of Trustees unanimously approved and adopted the 2019-2020 general fund, food service and debt service budgets — totaling a little more than $22 million — and a tax rate 8 cents lower than last year on Tuesday during a regular meeting following a public hearing.

“We have a wonderful situation now, where 10 years ago we were a million dollars in debt,” NISD Superintendent Dee Carter said. “This year we’re about to set aside well over $2 million to address projects that need to be done, as well as be able to set aside in the general fund balance more than three months reserved. We’ve really come along way in that way.”

The board unanimously approved to lower the tax rate by 8 cents to $1.27 per $100 valuation — $1.03 for the maintenance and operation rate and 24 cents for the interest and sinking rate.

Last year’s tax rate was $1.35 per $100 valuation.

The new fiscal year’s general fund totals about $18,722,095 with a deficit of $517,899 while last year the general fund was at $17,916,824. The food service budget checked in at $1,106,182 while the debt service totals $2,462,900.

The budget’s debt service total revenues are predicted at about $2,473,524 while total expenditures are $2,462,900 with a deficit of $10,624.

In the food service budget, $997,620 are anticipated for the total revenues with total expenditures of around $1,106,182, which causes a deficit of $108,562.

The biggest increase of this year’s budget was the salaries for the faculty and staff, which was approved last month by the school board.

Teachers, nurses, counselors and librarians with one to five years of experience will receive a $3,000 increase while those with six years or more are looking at $3,500.

“We’ve been trying for years to bring our salaries up to a competitive level. Our teachers are still behind other school districts in the area, but this board is doing its best to make that more even and equitable,” Carter said.

Salaries make up about 70% of the budget, Carter said.

Last month, all clerical, paraprofessional, technical and auxiliary employees also saw salary schedules increased by 5% at the midpoint of each salary group. However, the school board revised the auxiliary salary schedule on Tuesday by bumping up the pay of bus drivers with a starting salary of $15.25 per hour, a midpoint of $18.85 and maximum of $22.42.

Navarro’s current starting salary is $13.93 per hour with up to $1 per hour less than other surrounding districts such as Schertz-Cibolo Universal City ISD ($14.50) and Seguin ISD ($14.93).

“That was just critical because we were short five bus drivers and that was really challenging for us right at the beginning of the school year,” Carter said.

All salary raises were made possible by the additional funding House Bill 3 provided, she said.

“This board did the very best they could with the new money available. We are still a little bit concerned about being able to sustain that over the years,” Carter said. “That will remain to be seen, but this year we’re just really pleased about that.”

During the meeting, the school board also approved the following items:

• the members of the SHAC committee;

• the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System calendar and certified appraisers;

• an interlocal agreement with Texas Political Subdivisions Joint Self Insurance Fund for property and casualty insurance;

• contract renewal for copiers and printers;

• vehicle maintenance and repair;

• vendors for facility maintenance service and supplies;

• an advanced floral design CTE course.

Valerie Bustamante is a staff writer for the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail her at valerie.bustamante@seguingazette.com .

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