John Wink

Administrative staff pictured in this file photo with Superintendent John Wink are, from left, Business Manager Kathy Worley, Assistant Superintendent Donna Porter and Executive Assistant Jean Thomas.

Carthage ISD’s proposed $33.2 million budget will include a 2 percent average raise for staff and about $1.2 million for contingencies, officials said Monday.

This year’s proposed tax rate is $1.1964, down by $0.0136 from last year because the state legislature compressed tax rates. Carthage ISD is also proposing to swap a penny, bringing it from the debt side of the budget to the maintenance and operations side of the budget to provide about $300,000 in extra operational funding.

A budget hearing is set Aug. 17 at 6:15 p.m. The Carthage ISD school board will then consider its budget and tax rate at a 6:30 p.m. regular meeting the same day.

Business Manager Kathy Worley stressed Monday that much of the budget was built around things they can’t foresee. They’ve added money to pay for extra substitute teachers, more IT support for students learning at-home and cleaning supplies, among other things.

“As we were trying to establish the budget this year, we were having to look at the COVID pandemic and all of the things that we’re going to have to navigate through for this next year,” Worley said. “There’s so many unknowns.”

The proposed balanced budget includes a recapture payment of $6.46 million. Worley said the district has ended up with around $1 million left in its fund balance for capital projects, and they expect to spend all of that this year. She also noted that the district is not anticipating being able to add anything to its fund balance, which stands at $12 million.

Final property values will be in Monday, but Worley said they expect it to be around $3 billion.

The proposed penny swap is to increase the district’s revenue, Worley said. The district was also able to fund raises for staff members after auditing its staffing needs and finding that they could reduce some positions. Under the two percent average raise, teachers would see about $1,000 more, while paraprofessionals would see an increase of $500; auxiliary personnel would see an increase of 25 cents an hour; and bus personnel would see an increase of $250. No changes to the stipend schedule are proposed.

This year’s budget also takes into account the reinstatement of discounts for taxpayers who pay their tax bill early: Paying early means taxpayers can see discounts of 3 percent, 2 percent or 1 percent based on how early they pay.

The district is also working with a new average daily attendance formula for its state funding, Worley said. The Texas Education Agency adjusted its ADA to 99.57 percent, and Worley said the district would be making a big push this year to get students to show up — especially if they’re doing at-home learning.

Worley said if the district saw a 5 percent drop in its average daily attendance, that would mean a loss of $2 million for the district. A 10 percent drop would equate to a $4 million loss, while a 15 percent drop would equate to a $5.5 million loss.

Superintendent John Wink summed up the budget as the district making sure it could adapt to anything that came its way.

“We have to adapt, we have to adjust and we have to overcome when things come up,” he said, adding “We’re making sure that we’re putting lots of wiggle room into this budget to be able to adjust when unforeseen things come our way.”

Reporter

Carthage native Meredith Shamburger has worked for the Panola Watchman since 2018. Before that, she worked at sister papers in Longview and Marshall; the Dallas Morning News; and The Daily Voice, a hyperlocal news company in Westchester County, New York.