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Waxahachie board ‘confused’ over budget deficit figures

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JOEY DAUBEN
The Ellis County Press

WAXAHACHIE - Teachers and school board trustees have said the district's figures concerning the recent budget deficit are 'not adding up.'

'There's lots of unanswered questions,' said Trustee Bill Kelley.

'These are serious issues. We have got to hear the whole story. Just tell us where you're [district] getting these figures. That's all we're asking.'

Kelley, along with Joe Langely and Board Secretary Griggs DeHay, said they were 'confused' when Chief Financial Officer Dan Davis and Parker told them the district's latest appraised value of $143 million was only netting them $900,000 in additional taxes.

'Local, state tax dollars are giving the district the worst problems,' Parker once said. 'More and more of the cost of education is coming back on local taxpayers and costs must be cut even further.'

In other words, WISD taxpayers could be faced with a tax increase later this year to offset the deficit.

'I'll have to get with Joe [Langely, trustee] and Bill [Kelley, trustee] on some of that,'

Davis said, referring to specific local revenue figures the trustees asked about.

Parker and Davis met with trustees for an early morning meeting Saturday, Feb. 22 to discuss the $2.5 million budget deficit and figure out ways to cut spending.

According to one of Parker's budget-cutting proposals, students would start the year after Sept. 1.

Because of the shortfall, students would be in school until the first week of June and wouldn't have as many holidays, like State Fair Day.

'There is no way you could finish the semester before December,' Parker said. 'All those days [State Fair Day] are gone.'

Currently, the maintenance and operations portion of the district's tax rate is $1.48. City and school district tax rates are divided into two portions: the M&O rate and the Interest and Sinking rate.

The state cap for the M&O rate is $1.50 and, according to Parker, the district cannot raise rates higher than that cap.

Overall, the WISD tax rate is $1.68 per $100 of home valuation.

'[A Total of] $1.5 billion in district value only generates $22.5 million [in taxes],' Parker later said.

Waxahachie High School teachers, who said they were afraid to come out publicly for fear of losing their jobs, said the district didn't talk about a budget deficit before or during the recent bond election campaign.

'Isn't that amazing, there was a budget deficit that suddenly appeared right after that [$48 million] bond [proposal] was defeated,' said one WHS science teacher.

'We're not getting answers either. Having school board meetings at 8:30 a.m. in the morning is just an attempt to limit community and employee input. The meetings weren't even posted on the website.'

Kelley reiterated the teacher's comment about the early morning meeting. In addition, Kelley said the administration knew of a deficit, but didn't make it known until now.

The board has scheduled a meeting for 8 a.m. Saturday at the administration building.


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