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Palmer ISD to raise tax rate 6 cents

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The Ellis County Press

PALMER - Taxpayers will soon be paying the maximum school tax rates of $1.50 per $100 property appraisal.

School board members approved a six-cent tax increase to help the district balance the 2003-2004 budget during their Wednesday, Aug. 20 board meeting.

Taxes for a home valued at $100,000 would increase to $60 a year, bringing in an estimated $2.3 million dollars of the $7.5 million needed to fund the district.

Chris Scott, finance director for Palmer Independent School District, said the overall budget was trimmed in a lot

of places, with funding cuts to the library, counseling, transportation, maintenance, security and data processing departments.

Palmer Superintendent Larry Carson told board members it was important to increase staff development funding with an additional $115,000 for the district to comply with state audit performed last year.

During the audit, it was discovered the district needed to provide more professional development for teachers, Assistant Superintendent Dian Cooper said.

'We have a huge initiative to improve our TAKS scores and improve our curriculum alignment,' she said.

As part of the initiative program the district is offering teachers TAKS curriculum training, Gifted and Talented training, English as a Second Language (ESL) and is starting a mentorship program for new district teachers.

Carson told board members' the budget figures for the administration department were actually misrepresentative.

A department's budget includes salaries for all employees in the department, but Carson said many employees were not coded into the correct departments.

Scott had to recode all the affected staff into the correct divisions, making the administration department budget appear to gain the largest increase in funding.

The superintendent said after an employee is coded into the correct department, their salaries also have to be in the correct code.

It made the administration department funding appear to grow tremendously over the last year.

Carson said, at least one school administrator is required to be present during school sponsored events, such as, sporting, extra-curricular, athletic events or district UIL competitions.

Assistant principals were basically paid the same amount, across the board from the elementary school division to the high school division, Carson said, regardless of how long they were required to spend working after hours at various events.

He told board members it would be only fair to close the salary gap between principals and assistant principals, by approving additional funding for administrators who are required who work well beyond the normal workday.

The high school assistant principal will receive a raise of $6,000 per year.

A junior high assistant principal will get $5,000 more a year.

The intermediate assistant principal will be paid $500 more a year.

Assistant principals for the high school and junior high would receive a larger pay increase because they would be required to work longer hours to be present at school sponsored events.

Starting this year, the district has budgeted $16,000 toward replacing old central air conditioning units at its' four campuses.

Money would be budgeted and set aside in a special fund for five years, so the district can replace all the a/c units at the same time.

'Most of the units are the original ones installed,' Scott said.

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