School board lowers tax rate

M&O budget’s deficit due to COVID-19 expenditures

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The Sealy Independent School District Board of Trustees voted to approve a $.0036 decrease in the tax rate at last Wednesday’s regular meeting in the Sealy ISD administration building.
“We’re currently looking at an (maintenance and operations) tax rate of $0.9664, a decrease of $.0036 versus the prior year,” Sealy ISD’s Chief Financial Officer Lisa Svoboda said at the public hearing that preceded the regular meeting. “The (interest and sinking) tax rate looks to stay the same at 30 cents for a total tax rate of $1.2664. That’s down $.0036 from our $1.27 tax rate last year.”
At the regular meeting in the board room where all members of the board of trustees as well as district employees in attendance wore masks, Svoboda said the decrease in the tax rate was once again thanks to the compression provided by House Bill 3.
“The idea behind it is as we are forced to compress our tax rates, the tax values are going up,” Svoboda said. “They’re trying to correct that balance so taxpayers aren’t getting hit with higher values and tax rates at the same time.”
Svoboda also presented the budgets for approval and noted that although the M&O budget showed a deficit of $150,000, that was mainly due to costs associated with COVID-19. In preparation for that deficit, Svoboda said cost-cutting measures were enacted to nearly have a balanced budget.
“M&O budget shows a deficit of $156,208 and it’s important to note we were able to reduce our fiscal year ’21 expenditures by $208,000 to get that number down so that was something we worked hard on as a team,” Svoboda said.
The I&S budget presented an excess of $199,793, total funds available sat at $25.3 million and total expenditures checked in at $25.4 million, down from $25.7 million last year.
“This year was an especially tricky year because of everything going on trying to project these things in a world where we’ve never experienced any of this before certainly makes it a little difficult,” Svoboda said.
In the COVID-19 update presented by Assistant Superintendent Chris Summers, the enrollment status as of Aug. 26 was presented to show 2,023 students in face-to-face instruction and 731 involved with virtual learning. Superintendent Bryan Hallmark said the total of 2,754 sat about 40 students lower than at this point last year but he expected some new enrollments after the Labor Day holiday.

Election update
Svoboda also presented an amendment to the order of election for the two school board seats that are up. The election was supposed to be held in May but got postponed to November and now the school district will have to enter an interlocal agreement with the county to run the election since they normally rent the county’s equipment for the spring election.
“We have to use the same voting precincts that they use for the general election,” Svoboda said. “Normally when we run our own election, we’re able to have voting locations in Sealy, one in Frydek, one in San Felipe, and one in Cat Spring. Because we have to do this with the county, we have to run nine voting locations.”
She also said that with the voting precincts in place, there will be Sealy ISD parents who have to go vote in Bellville because that’s where they’re drawn for the general election.
In other actions, the board:
• Ratified a Region 4 interlocal agreement with Verizon and a TEA order of Chromebooks and hotspots presented by technology director Amy Dyer;
• Approved the use of CSP for procurement of mechanical and electrical proposals, the expansion plan for the Sealy Elementary School parking lot and purchase of musical band equipment presented by project manager Michael Zapalac, and;
• Approved a district-initiated revision to DEC local policy presented by executive director of human resources and operations Shawn Hiatt.

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