Burnet CISD’s balanced budget comes with employee pay raises, new staff positions

JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF

BURNET — After Burnet Consolidated Independent School District administrators concluded a 2013-2014 budget presentation June 3, board members leaned back and smiled.

Members saw a balanced budget that included pay raises for some employees and several new staff positions.

“We want to give you a flavor of what (the budget) pays for,” Superintendent Keith McBurnett said.

It was a far cry from what the board experienced a year ago when the district faced a projected $1.5 million deficit.

The projected total of the 2013-2014 budget is $23.3 million. Payroll accounts for a majority of the budget at $18.5 million. The general pay increase, which would go into effect for the upcoming school year if approved by the board in August, is $370,500.

BCISD employees haven’t had a pay raise in three years, said director of Human Resources Administrative Services Contessa Huffman. Administrators had told employees, she added, that once the district was again in a good place financially, they and the board would re-examine what the budget could do.

“Well, it’s time to look at it,” she said.

Last fall, McBurnett studied the salaries of his employees and compared them to what similar school districts were paying theirs in the same positions. So he recommended a 2 percent increase.

“Some got it,” he said.

For those making $57,000, Huffman said they would be offered a one-time payment of $850, which was the same thing offered last year to most employees instead of a raise.

As they were looking at salaries, the two discovered two employees with the same amount of experience performing the same duties. But one made $4,000 more than the other.

“That shouldn’t happen,” Huffman said. “We’re going to fix this.”

McBurnett said payroll issues might be the only item brought back to the board as administrators continue to monitor what the state legislature does.

District administrators also want to add an elementary school gifted-and-talented teacher, an elementary school counselor, a Burnet Middle School reading teacher, a fine arts teacher for each elementary campus and an instructional technologist.

The proposed budget also included expanding the curriculum at Burnet Middle School to allow those students to earn high school credits in several classes.

Secondary curriculum coordinator Jim Connor said 100 percent of the 68 eighth-graders who took Algebra I last year passed the class.

It marked the return of Algebra I to the middle school after a hiatus, something McBurnett said was an important part of the curriculum to many people, including residents and those within BCISD.

One big item missing in the budget is funding for Shady Grove Elementary, beyond upkeep expenses. The district is closing the elementary campus at the end of this school year as a cost-savings measure.

The next regular board meeting is June 17, when members will be presented with year-end projections. On July 17, members will be given a proposed budget and tax rate. And on Aug. 19, a budget and tax hearing will be conducted. Then board members will be asked to adopt the final budget.

All meetings are in the BCISD board room, 208 E. Brier.

jfierro@thepicayune.com