Stafford MSD CFO finds new money for District
By Karen Daniels
At the first joint budget meeting of 2014 between the City of Stafford and Stafford Municipal School District—a meeting that is largely informational—CFO Carla Merka announced that $213,015K was earned and recaptured through her office. The Transportation Allotment revenue is considered new money to SMSD because it had not been applied for in the past. This complex report takes the budget office approximately two weeks to comprise. Every Wednesday, a “ridership count” of the kids that ride the bus is documented. Additionally, mileage, hazardous routes, and salaries are factored to into the written report. CFO Merka said, “Through due diligence for taking the time to do the report we have strengthened our transportation department on the way we submit reports.” The amount for 2012/13 was $125,150; the remaining $87,865 was applied to 2011/2012.
Mayor Scarcella spoke of earlier times, “some 38 years ago…this is what started the dispute with FBISD.” He was speaking of transportation. Back then there wasn’t a “hazardous” provision by the State. The rule was simply two miles or less and schools did not have to provide bus service. The trouble with the two miles in Stafford is that it required kids to cross busy roads and train tracks. According to the Mayor, FBISD thought the city of Stafford would simply go out and purchase new buses. They had no idea of the historical breakaway that would ensue. Though the reporting cycle is not yet complete for next year, Carla Merka predicts the amount the District receives will go up.
In other budgeting news, Superintendent Dr. Lance Hindt briefly covered topics that will be covered during the ongoing months of joint budget meetings; strategic planning achievements and completions, the rising cost of insurance rates, the potential for ½ day preschool-3, the replacement of 10 year-old band uniforms, results from a capacity report, the need to enlist parents, and enhance area business connections, and creating an incentive program to retain great teachers. There is residual money from the bond that can be used toward some of these programs.
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