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Burnet CISD keeps face coverings optional, looks at rising enrollment, approves tax rate

Bertram Elementary School

The Burnet Consolidated Independent School District board on Aug. 20 approved a new teacher position at Bertram Elementary School (pictured) and Shady Grove Elementary in Burnet. The district faces 'capacity challenges at the elementary level' as district enrollment increases. File photo

No face coverings will be required for students and staff in the Burnet Consolidated Independent School District, board members decided at a meeting Monday, Aug. 30. As that discussion was underway, the Marble Falls Independent School District board approved a measure requiring masks on its campuses throughout the month of September. 

Also Monday, BCISD approved the 2021-22 fiscal year tax rate. 

After a lengthy discussion, the BCISD board decided to keep face coverings optional. 

“Knowing that communities across the state are deeply divided regarding the use of face coverings, the board commended the BCISD staff and students who have acknowledged the variety of circumstances and desires of individuals and have promoted an environment that supports families’ decisions to wear or not wear masks,” BCISD Superintendent Keith McBurnett stated in an email to DailyTrib.com.

The district continues to monitor COVID-19 cases on campuses and updates its dashboard to keep families and the community informed of numbers. 

McBurnett pointed out that BCISD takes into account several issues when considering campus closures, not just the number of positive cases.

“Rather, we are closely monitoring COVID cases among staff and students, and evaluating not only the number of cases, but where the cases are occurring and among which staff members the cases are occurring,” he stated.

In relation to COVID-19, the board did approve a resolution permitting BCISD staff to receive up to eight additional days of leave if they test positive. To be eligible, a staff member must use an approved testing location such as a doctor’s office, a lab, or a BCISD site. 

STUDENT ENROLLMENT

In other business, Templeton Demographics presented a report showing that BCISD could grow by 100 to 300 students each year for the next decade. McBurnett pointed out that, based on conservative numbers, the district enrollment should approach 4,760 by 2030. If student enrollment grows more aggressively, the number could be closer to 5,870. Currently, the district’s student population is 3,201.

“We will likely have capacity challenges at the elementary level and middle school level in the next three to five years,” he added. “You will be hearing more about our growth as we continue to plan for the future.”

The board also approved a new elementary teacher position at both Shady Grove Elementary School and Bertram Elementary School. The superintendent said the district is trying fill four open teacher spots, including these two new positions.

TAX RATE

For the sixth year in a row, the BCISD board approved a lower tax rate. Trustees voted to adopt an ad valorem tax rate of $1.077 per $100 property valuation, a cut of 6.93 cents from the 2020-21 rate. This will support the $38 million 2021-22 fiscal year budget, which the board also approved during the same meeting.

“Between 2015 and 2021, the Board of Trustees has lowered the tax rate by 25.33 cents, resulting in the lowest tax rate in the district’s history and also ranking Burnet CISD as the second-lowest tax rate among area school districts,” McBurnett stated.

The $38 million budget is an increase of about $4 million over the previous one. The increase is due to a 2-percent pay increase for staff as well as “a significant increase” in the district’s recapture payment, also known as Robin Hood, McBurnett said. In the 2021-22 budget, BCISD is scheduled to send $4 million to the state for its recapture payment.

Reporter Brigid Cooley contributed to this article.

daniel@thepicayune.com