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Burnet CISD names two new principals, receives better budget outlook

Jessica McMullen and Abby O'Hair

Jessica McMullen (left) is the new R.J. Richey Elementary School principal and Abby O’Hair will take the lead role at Shady Grove Elementary School after the Burnet Consolidated Independent School District approved their hires June 7. Courtesy photos

Class is out but the Burnet school board is hard at work, approving the hires of two new principals and receiving a better-than-expected budget forecast for the 2021-22 fiscal year.

Jessica McMullen is the new R.J. Richey Elementary School principal while Abby O’Hair will take the lead role at Shady Grove Elementary after the Burnet Consolidated Independent School District board of trustees approved the hires at a special meeting Monday, June 7.

McMullen has been the principal at Jo Ann Ford Elementary School in Georgetown, where she has worked since 2016. She has 10 years’ experience as a principal and has taught elementary and middle school and served as a department chair, an instructional coach, and an assistant principal.

“Jessica is an outstanding school leader. We are excited that she and her family will be joining Burnet CISD,” said BCISD Superintendent Keith McBurnett in a media statement. “Jessica brings a wealth of knowledge in instructional leadership and building school culture having served as a district lead principal and mentor principal to her administrators in her prior work experience.”

O’Hair is not new to BCISD, where she taught a number of grades for 10 years. Most recently, she was assistant principal of Kline Whitis Elementary School in Lampasas. Previously at BCISD, she earned several Educator of the Year honors and was the elementary gifted-talented coordinator.

“We are excited to have Abby returning to Burnet CISD to serve as an elementary principal. Her knowledge of the community will help in building a strong campus climate while also focusing on continuous improvement and quality learning,” McBurnett said. “Her outstanding performance as an assistant principal has prepared her to take on the role of instructional leaders for Shady Grove Elementary.”


Also on June 7, the school board got a bit of good budget news during a workshop. BCISD Chief Financial Officer Clay Goehring’s presentation for the 2021-22 fiscal year offered a better forecast than previously expected.

Partly due to the pandemic, the district has been experiencing lower student enrollment numbers. School financing from the state is based on enrollment, so BCISD is projecting a budget deficit next year. However, district staff informed the board that the revenue surplus on hand this year can cover the expected deficit.

The administration also believes student enrollment will bounce back starting next year and help cover the deficit. 

The campus and district budgets, Goehring told the board, will remain unchanged for the 2021-22 fiscal year. However, BCISD is working on a budget that would provide for a 2 percent pay increase for staff at some point next year while still covering employee-only health, vision, and dental insurance. 

The board could take action on the employee compensation and benefits plan during the June 28 regular board meeting.

Also on the budget front, district officials are still projecting a 6.9 cent decrease in the BCISD ad valorem property tax rate for the 2021-22 fiscal year, even with the passage of the recent bond. The board will vote on the tax rate at the Aug. 30 meeting. 


The board approved a number of summer bond projects, including renovating the bus lane behind the Bulldog Field visitors’ stands, purchasing a new district-wide phone system, and buying laptops for Burnet High School instructional staff. The laptops will be purchased in stages due to supply-chain shortages, officials said.

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