The Goose Creek CISD board has adopted its $233.1 million budget and it is being touted by at least one trustee as the “biggest raise in Goose Creek’s history.” “In the 13 years I have been here, I’ve never seen a bigger raise for our people,” said Trustee Agustin Loredo III. “We are hooking teachers up as well as everybody.”
Chief Financial Officer Margie Grimes and Renea Woodruff, the district’s director of finance, showed the board their final proposed budget.
Woodruff said the proposed budget is based on current law.
“We will repost the tax rate notice amending the 2019-2020 budget once we work through the details of (House Bill 3) as it relates to the pay incentives, state revenues and allotments for the other programs,” Woodruff said.
One highlight of the new budget is the total tax rate lowering from $1.43189 to $1.38530, dropping it by .04659 cents. The Maintenance and Operations tax, which pays for salaries and ongoing expenses, went from $1.17000 to $1.0684, a reduction of $.10160. Grimes had previously stated the M&O tax rate going down to $1.0684 was a result of HB3, the school finance reform bill.
However, Interest and Sinking rate, a tax that repays bonds, is going up $.05501 making the new rate $.31690.
For the district employees, there was a lot of good news. The board approved the administration’s recommendation for a 5.8% of the midpoint pay increase for teachers, librarians and nurses, or $4,000, for those with five or more years of experience. For those with less than five years experience, they will get a 5.1% of the midpoint increase or about $3,500. Administrative employees will receive a 4.5% pay range midpoint increase while maintenance and paraprofessionals, including everyone that does not have a contract, will receive the same.
“Even the 4.5% raise is the biggest raise I have seen in the 13 years I have been there, maybe even the biggest ever,” Loredo said. “Some of it is the legislation. But some districts out there are not able to give raises since they still do not have enough money. If you look at other districts in our area, we are being generous.”
Loredo said the raises are well deserved.
“I think we have to be cognizant of what those teachers have done,” he said.
An employee wellness clinic is also being added as a part of the budget.
“It is opening soon, and that will be huge,” Loredo said. “If an employee is waiting and in pain for a doctor, they can go to the wellness clinic instead.”
The clinic will cost $250,000, according to the budget plan. Additionally, the budget includes a proposed increase in the district’s share of employee medical insurance premiums from $250 to $275.
Loredo agreed with Grimes and Woodruff that HB3 played a role in making this year’s budget come out positively.
“We are doing a little bit extra to show our employees we appreciate their hard work and thank them for hanging in there with us,” he said.
The budget also estimates student enrollment growth at 1%, from 23,710 to 23,947. In addition, Grimes showed a chart showing enrollment growth at Goose Creek has increased by 4% over the past five years.
The newly adopted budget also shows the preliminary certified taxable property values for the M&O after the value limitation for 2019 turned out to be the same as last year’s at $11.1 billion. The I&S preliminary values also increased $1.1 billion, or 8%, making it $15.1 billion, up from $14 billion last year.