Updated: Lewisville ISD Trustees to Meet Monday About Budget

Date 2010/6/18 6:10:00 | Topic: Lewisville ISD Notes

Today, the agenda was released for the upcoming June 21st budget workshop and meeting of the Lewisville ISD Trustees. We had hoped the district would have posted the preliminary budget, but sadly, it appears the general public is not worthy of having a look just yet.

The budget is posted neither in the district's budget page nor in the meeting's agenda packet.

As of Wednesday, Trustees still hadn't seen the proposed budget. (Update: We're told that trustees did receive the budget by email now. 2nd Update: Now available online here.)

Here's the entire agenda for Monday night's upcoming meeting:
Lewisville Independent School District
Workshop & Special Meeting
Monday, June 21, 2010 6:00 PM
Bolin Administrative Center, 1565 W. Main Street, Lewisville, Texas
A. Presentation and Discussion of Budget
1. Law Offices of Robert E. Luna - Legal Issues related to Budget and Tax Rate Adoption
2. Moak and Casey - School District Finance
3. District Administration
1. Consider Proposed Tax Rate and Approval of Resolution
for Notice of Public Meeting to Discuss Proposed Tax Rate.

At this past Monday night's meeting, Trustees set dates for several upcoming meetings this summer:
June 21st, 6 PM: Workshop and meeting about next year's budget
July 12th, 6 PM: Meeting to adopt the tax rate
July 29th, 6 PM: Adopt a budget and possibly order a tax rate election. (Possibly a 2 cent or 13 cent increase)
August 4th, 6 PM: Workshop and meeting regarding superintendent search and other personnel issues.

I know there are people hard at work trying to improve LISD's communications, and we want to give them some time, but this is one issue that we will continue to hammer: There is a lack of transparency when it comes to agendas. In a year where it is extremely likely that voters will be asked for a tax rate increase, it seems to us that we need as much insight as early as we can. Board members will have to adopt a tax rate on July 12th, less than a month from now.

Absolutely every piece of information placed in board member packets that is legally allowable to be released needs to be put into the publicly available agenda packets. Even though it will be read by only a small number of concerned citizens and district employees, just the fact that it's out there helps keep the board and administration on their toes, as well as allowing citizens more time and opportunity for input.

Case-in-point: The recent acceptable use of technology guidelines proposed punishing employees to reveal their affiliation with the district on their personal Facebook pages. It was a borrowed policy just like the district tends to do all the time when it adopts massive updates from TASB without disclosing them to the public. In this case, it was disclosed, and people brought the awful policy to the attention of the administration, who had it pulled. We shouldn't waste opportunities like that for crowd-sourcing good policy.

As far as the upcoming tax increase election, if it is called: We really don't currently have enough information to take a stand one way or the other. On the one hand, I echo the sentiments of my neighbor, who told me "I'd pay double the school taxes if that's what it took to guarantee a great education." On the other hand, I'm not sufficiently impressed that the district has cut deeply enough into its overhead expenses, and I'm frustrated that the district's recent policy is to "hire green". It seems the district has allowed itself to start losing talented, experienced teachers by attrition, due to low pay. I would want to hear that this policy would be reversed, and that our board members have had ample time to satisfy themselves that overhead was trimmed and the district was running lean already before I could get behind the larger rate increase.

As far as the above, if you want to see our general philosophy on fiscal responsibility in government, here it is, straight from 2007. (I should probably post an updated version soon)

WhosPlayin will provide video coverage of the Monday meeting, and we'll let you know as soon as we get our hands on a copy of that preliminary budget.

Update 6/19/2010: We're told that board members have received the budget by email. District administration has apparently pushed back on posting the budget online because in their words "It's too big to post on the website". Right. LISD - here's my offer: If your website is truly incapable of holding large files (such as budgets), then WhosPlayin is happy to post them here where we have virtually unlimited space and bandwidth. You can add a link from your district website to the files stored on our servers. Just another public service we're happy to provide.

Update 6/21/2010:
It looks like LISD did figure out how to get the preliminary budget and presentation uploaded to the website. Visit the agenda packet page and take a look. If you're attending tonight, you may want to download these onto a laptop computer so you can follow along.

Obligatory Good News about LISD
You may have seen some of this in the video from Monday night, but LISD is expected to remain a TEA Recognized district, just a smidge away from being Exemplary, which is an outstanding accomplishment that shows the hard work of many teachers and administrators.

Also, in case you missed it, the Dallas Observer had this article about black students moving out of the inner cities and into the suburbs. Not surprisingly, Lewisville ISD was positively mentioned:
But Dallas beats the heck out of Lancaster, where only 52 percent of all students pass and 50 percent of black students pass.

Dallas and Duncanville are closer in the number of top black students they produce. In Dallas, 7 percent of black students test at the "commended" level. Duncanville has 8 percent of black students at the commended level. Lancaster has only 4 percent.

If you look at the more affluent northern suburbs, the performance numbers for black students get much better. In Lewisville, 76 percent of black students are passing their tests and 14 percent are at the tops of their classes. In Lewisville, 85 percent are passing and 16 percent are at the top.

Remember I said that Allen has gone from 4.4 to 7.7 percent African-American since 2000. Lewisville has gone from 7.4 to 9.2. The big yardstick is this: in the same period, Dallas' black population has dropped from 25.9 percent to 23.2.

Good job on that.

This article comes from The Lewisville Texan Journal

The URL for this story is: