By Betsy Dolan
The new school year in the Lamar Consolidated School District started with a balanced budget and across-the-board raises for all Lamar CISD staff. The Board of Trustees approved budgets for the 2012-2013 school year which included the staff raises without increasing the tax rate.
“We were able to accomplish three goals: a balanced budget, no tax increase and a raise for our employees,” said Lamar CISD Superintendent, Dr. Thomas Randle. “The credit goes to our Trustees and to our staff, both of which have done a terrific job of planning and holding down costs, even while we continue to add students.”
The raise for teachers amounts to about $2.6 million, according to a district spokesman. Although the actual amount varies depending on the particular teacher’s years of service and degree, the overall average for teachers is roughly 3 percent. The starting teacher salary is now $46,500.
All other district employees are paid according to pay grade tables.The raise for these employees amounts to about $1.2 million and is based on 3 percent of the midpoint of each employee’s pay grade.
The Trustees were presented budgets showing about $183.7 million in revenues and expenditures for the general fund, $12.7 million for the Child Nutrition Program and $41.9 million for the debt service fund.
The largest line items in the general fund budget are: $130 million for salaries; $24 million for benefits; $7.5 million for utilities; $1.7 million for insurance and $1 million for fuel costs.
The District’s tax rate will remain the same as last year at $1.39005 per $100 valuation with one small change: the maintenance and operations fund will increase by 2 cents to $1.04005, but the interest and sinking fund will decrease by 2 cents to 35 cents. Maintenance and Operations (General Fund) budget covers salaries, energy costs and other assorted day-to-day costs. Interest and Sinking is used to pay off the bonds the District uses to build new schools and other facilities.