By Karen Daniels
The annual Special Joint Session of the Board of Trustees for SMSD and Stafford’s City Council met last week to vote on the 2012/2013 school budget and proposed tax rate increase. After two hours of introductions, updates, discussions, a public hearing (where only one person spoke) the votes for the proposed budget and the three cent tax rate increase were passed unanimously. Three cents to a home valued at $150,000 will amount to a $32 increase from last year. Dr. Hindt called the budget “conservative, yet provides for the staff and students.”
Stafford MSD had a record setting attendance the first week of school with 3,317 students registered in the District. And this will probably not be the final number. On September 8, the District is holding a Drop-Out Recovery Walk that will go to the homes of students that have not only dropped out, but students who have switched to private, charter, or home schools. If you are identified as the latter, the District will be giving you a survey to fill out to discover why your student left.
The District has seven strategic vision plans for the future of SMSD, the number one being college and career readiness. In 2013, the Stafford College and Career Center will open a 92,000 square foot addition to the high school. Some of the academy programs will provide certifications in selected subjects such as education, health sciences, distribution and logistics, information technology, engineering, and natural sciences. Other subjects will provide skills and knowledge is areas such as culinary arts, law and criminal justice, military science, agriculture, and marketing and business management.
A hot button topic that evening was criticism of the Robin Hood plan, the nickname given to legislation enacted by the State of Texas in 1993 to provide court-mandated equitable school financing for all school districts in the state. This is the law that recaptures property tax revenue from property-wealthy school districts and distributes to those in property-poor districts in an effort to equalize the financing of all districts throughout Texas. Mayor Scarcella pointed out that 64% of Stafford students are economically challenged and the District should not be sending money away, and yet they are. Councilman Willis called this Robin Hood legislature “un-Texacan and un-American to have to send money that Stafford needs to the proverbial black hole in Austin.” He added, “It’s time for Texas to solve this education problem.”
The Mayor commended Dr. Hindt for “steering the ship” of the District to a successful year. Dr. Hindt thanked the Council, the teachers and the staff for being “the wheels on the bus.” A special thank you was given to CFO, Carla Merka, for her hard work on the budget.