At its regular meeting on August 9, School Board members conducted a public meeting to discuss the 2010-2011 budget and proposed tax rate. Before formally adopting a budget and tax rate, the Board heard a report from the Citizens Advisory Committee regarding the Blanco ISD Facility Study.
In August of 2009, the Board commissioned architect Randy Fromberg to conduct a facility study that would develop a facility vision, identify issues and concerns on each campus, identify issues and concerns at the district level, identify community-related issues, assess existing facility needs, prioritize those needs, anticipate future facility needs, anticipate future demographic issues and to design a well developed plan to address present and future facility issues.
At a Board meeting on April 19, Fromberg presented his facility study to the Board. At its May 10 meeting, the Board directed Superintendent Buck Ford to organize a committee of citizens to consider Fromberg’s facility study and to advise as appropriate. A committee was organized and met throughout the summer to study the implications of the facility study. At the August 9 meeting of the Board, the committee reported and made its recommendations.
It was determined that the present Middle School and High School facilities are generally adequate at present and for the near future. The Elementary campus, however, is in need of major improvements: the library is too small, computer and science facilities are inadequate, there are too many portables, there will be an ever increasing classroom shortage and, among other things, there are proximity and connectivity issues (the campus is too spread out and doesn’t flow efficiently).
Saving the Old Yellow School
The committee looked at the issues and explored the options. One option would be to build an entirely new Elementary campus. This would mean doing away with the historic “Old Yellow” school building that has had a long history in the community. In 1874 stones were quarried for a proposed Masonic college. In 1884 those stones were used to build the original two-story school. In 1893, that building was destroyed by fire and was rebuilt in 1902. In 1921 the building was condemned and renovated. During the 1940s and 1950s various repairs and additions were made.
The Citizens Advisory Committee, after carefully considering all the options, made the following recommendations to the Board: Remove the later additions to the façade of the old building; gut the old building but keep the exterior appearance; totally renovate the interior adding sixteen classrooms, a library, a computer lab, a science lab, new restrooms, walls and halls totaling 24,000 square feet of new space. The old cafeteria that is presently too small would be converted into music and art facilities. Tennis courts and a track would be constructed, a new cafeteria would be built that would be more centrally located and covered walkways would be added connecting all the facilities and facilitating the “flow”.
A bond election would be scheduled for November 2, 2010, in order to pay for the new Elementary School facilities estimated to cost approximately 8.6 million dollars. The facility would be ready for use by the end of July 2012 and would be adequate for a projected enrollment up to ten years from now.
Board President Matt Herden said that the Board had been accused of wanting to “bulldoze” the Old Yellow building. “That is definitely not true,” he said. “This plan is excellent.”
The Advisory Committee
Rebecca Greathouse and Dennis Moore expressed their appreciation to fellow members of the Citizens Advisory Committee for pulling together to make the recommendations. They also thanked the Board for “electing such a diverse group from the Blanco community.” They expressed their admiration for architect Randy Fromberg “who came up with ‘an elegant solution’ in two weeks’ time.” She said the plan “really addresses the issues at hand. It kept the Old School, we like the cafeteria placement, and by converting the old cafeteria to music and art, we’ll get a lot of bang for our bucks.”
Ms. Greathouse proposed that the entire project be undertaken at once rather than to do it a little at a time. “If we do only a part of it now, we’ll have to come back and do it (a bond election) again later. The better option is to do the entire project now. But,” she said, “it must be explained to the public in its entirety so that no particular line item will impede its implementation. This is a very good plan,” she said, “and should generate a lot of excitement.”
Architect Fromberg gave a power point presentation including preliminary architectural renderings and Jennifer Douglas of Specialized Public Finance, Inc. provided basic information regarding a bond proposal.
Members of the Citizens Advisory Committee were recognized with certificates of appreciation by Superintendent Ford. They included Jennifer Baker, Travis Davis, Arlin Dowdy, Dr. Barbara Dugelby, Norma Jean Felps, Roger Felps, Kelle Gombert, Connie Granberg, Becky Greathouse, Jimmy Klepac, Larry Kuebel, Jim Latham, Harold Lord, Dennis Moore, Tim Nance, Ken Olfers, Pierre Perez, Stuart Stromeyer and Bernice West.
Architect Randy Fromberg has had a close relationship with Blanco ISD. He has conducted facility studies for the District in 1995 and 2010. He was the architect of the High School facility. He served as a consultant this summer for the Citizens Advisory Committee. Among the services provided was designing a plan for the Yellow Building that met unanimous approval from the committee members.
Architect Fromberg has submitted a Standard Form Agreement between Owner and Architect for pre-bond services. The agreement is a bond support and capital improvement program. The fees for the service are contingent on a successful passage of a bond election. It also provides for carry over after the bond. The Board approved the Standard Form of Agreement between Owner and Architect for pre-bond services.
2010-2011 Budget Approved
The Board approved a total estimated budget of $12,959,552 for the 2010-2011 school year. 60% of that total or $6,630,607 will go directly to instruction which translates into $6,871 per pupil. Payroll costs amount to 80% of overall expenditures.
Campus leadership or administration will receive 4.55% of the budgeted monies while Co-curricular Student Activities will receive 4.63% for a total of $509,350. The cost to service school district debt is estimated at $655,730.
The Board is required to adopt a budget prior to August 31 that represents the revenues and expenditures anticipated for the school year for all funds. The general operating fund of $11,002,107 is balanced and was approved. That amount is slightly lower than the previous year’s total of $11,284,150.
2010-2011 Tax Rate Approved
The Board approved a tax rate for the coming school year of $1.1517 per $100 valuation which includes $1.400 for maintenance and operations which will generate $6,500,000, and debt service of $.1117 which will generate $655,730.
The Superintendent reported a 2.5% decrease in the overall district budget for the coming school year, however, the increased tax rate will cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 an increase in taxes of approximately $98 for the year. The tax rate increase is the maximum that can be levied to avoid a rollback election. Last year’s tax rate per $100 valuation was 1.0838
The district currently maintains a fund balance of $2,100,000 in maintenance and operations and a fund balance of $510,000 in interest and sinking.
Local Board Policy Revisions
The Board approved some revisions to Local School Board Policies in order to bring them in line with actual practices and to align them with wording recommended by the Texas Association of School Boards to meet present requirements. The revised policy manual can now be placed on-line subsequent to the formal Board approval of the suggested changes.
Kendalia School Property
Representatives from Kendall County presented a petition to the Board containing 375 signatures of Kendall County residents requesting that Blanco ISD call for a public hearing to consider donating the Kendalia School property currently owned by the school district to Kendall County.
Since 1958, Blanco ISD has had a lease agreement with the Kendalia Community Club regarding a 2.0649 acre property located in Kendalia. The agreement, which was last updated in 1999, allows the Kendalia Community Club to lease the property from the school district for $1.00 per year. The term of the lease is 99 years.
After deliberations in closed session, the Board re-convened and recommended honoring Kendall County’s request for a public hearing to consider donating the Kendalia School property to Kendall County.
Other Board Actions
The Board approved an agreement with Neffendorf, Knopp, Doss and Company, Certified Public Accountants, to audit the District for the year ending August 31, 2010.
The Superintendent announced some minor updates to the Student-Parent Handbook for the coming school year. The Handbook will be available on-line or, if a hard copy is desired, one can be requested from the school office. No changes will be made at this time to the Student Code of Conduct.
A Special School Board Meeting is tentatively scheduled for Monday, August 23.
The Superintendent reported on the College Connection Program and Data Sharing Agreement with Austin Community College.
2009-2010 Accountability Ratings
The Superintendent reported that the TEA Accountability ratings for the High School and Elementary School were “Acceptable” while the Middle School was rated “Recognized.”
Open Houses/Meet the Teachers
Open Houses to meet the teachers for the coming school year are scheduled as follow:
Elementary: Friday, August 20, 5:00 to 6:30 p.m.
Middle School: Tuesday, August 31, 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.
High School: Monday, August 30, 6:00 p.m.
All Board members were present with the exception of Mary Ann Weaver, who had a family emergency.