By Karen Daniels
The first joint budget meeting of 2013 for the City of Stafford and Stafford MSD began last week with mention of the 83rd Legislative session and the uncertainty for which that brings. Superintendant Dr. Lance Hindt had just returned from three days in Austin with the recently retained consultant, John R. Pitts. Dr. Hindt shared that he doesn’t think the 5.4 million that was cut from the 82nd session will be restored to education. However, steps might be taken to “eliminate some mandates that would free up money” for the school districts of Texas.
Attendance is up at SMSD. In 2011 the total count was 3,120. This year attendance is at an all time high of 3,353. This is a budget concern due to the fact that state funding for school districts is based on the year prior. Mayor Scarcella, City Council, Dr. Hindt, and the Board of Trustees all agreed that in order to establish a more accurate budget, a clearer picture was needed of Chapter 41 and the assessed valuations. An outside consultant may be necessary to better gage these figures. Additionally, when construction is complete at SMSD there will be added costs to factor in such as electricity and general upkeep.
The 2010-2015 Strategic Vision Plan will drive the actions of the District and guide its budget action. Included in the plan for the 2013/14 school year, parents will be provided the opportunity to complete 2 six-hour courses for career and college readiness to assist their children. Campus administrators and counselors will encourage parents to attend the courses which will be focused on strategies and activities parents can do at home to support current learning or college entrance. Dr. Hindt stated that this will be tough to accomplish without additional resources to run the library. Meetings and discussions included requesting funding from Fort Bend County Commissioners Court. Mayor Scarcella pointed out that Stafford is the only major city in Fort Bend County that does not have a county library. With the additional funding, Stafford MSD will be able to keep the library open until 8:00pm benefitting parents and the entire community.