The Longview ISD Board of Trustees approved the proposed 2022-23 property tax rate during their regular meeting Monday, Aug. 8.
If approved later this month, the proposal would see the tax rate decrease considerably from $1.4394 per $100 valuation for 2021-22 to $1.3276 per $100 valuation for the 2022-23 fiscal year.
Dr. Wayne Guidry, Assistant Superintendent of Finance said a meeting and public hearing will be held at 12 p.m. on Aug. 25 to discuss, consider, and possibly approve the proposed 2022-23 budget and tax rate.
Superintendent Dr. James Wilcox talked to the board about the district's history of cutting the tax rate over the last three years, after keeping the same rate stable for nearly a decade.
"The board maintained the same tax rate of $1.5130 from 2010 until 2019 — when the district reduced the rate to $1.4430 — and we've continued to reduce it each year since," he said. "This illustrates how Longview ISD has worked to offset the sharp increase in property tax valuations that are well beyond our control."
While the district has reduced the LISD property tax rate for the last three fiscal years, the amount of property taxes collected may increase due to a rise in the value of the property, which is determined by the county appraisal district.
In accordance with state law, the tax rate ultimately adopted at this meeting may not exceed the proposed rate, unless the district publishes a revised notice containing the same information and comparisons, in addition to holding another public meeting to discuss the revised notice.
Local stakeholders are invited to attend and share comments on the proposed budget and tax rate for the coming fiscal year.
For questions about the budget and proposed tax rate please contact the district at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 903-381-2200.
'Sick Leave Bank' for Staff
Later, trustees unanimously approved amending local board policy to create a "Sick Leave Bank" for district employees that have exhausted their regular paid days off.
Presented to the board by Dr. James Hockenberry, Assistant Superintendent of District Services, the purpose of this bank "is a benefit to assist employees in dealing with prolonged, severe, or life-threatening conditions that force them to exhaust paid leave and would otherwise result in a loss of income."
"The sick leave bank is a collective deposit of leave days received from enrolling employees and subsequent contributions from members," he said. "Participation in the district sick leave bank is voluntary."
Dr. Hockenberry explained that to become a member of the sick leave bank an employee must contribute one leave day per school year of participation. The sick leave bank will have an open enrollment period each year at a set date.
"All existing employees are required to complete a sick leave bank enrollment form annually with their election for participation during the current open enrollment period," he said. "New employees hired during the open enrollment period will be eligible to enroll in the sick leave bank for the current year."
Days deposited in the bank become the property of the sick leave bank and are no longer available for use by the individual employee as accrued leave. Upon retirement, an employee may donate any uncompensated leave days to the sick leave bank.
"We have employees who are fortunate enough to never have to take a day off, but the unexpected can happen to anyone," he said. "There are also times where a serious health emergency, whether for them or an immediate family member, requires an employee to miss more days than they have accrued."
Dr. Hockenberry said more details about the program will be provided in the coming days, both via direct email as well as posted to the Business Office section of Longview ISD website.
"At the end of the day, we want our employees to know that they are cared for and that their peers are willing to help them in times of personal crisis," he added.
Please click here to download the resolution and related documentation. For more info please contact the LISD Business Office at 903-381-2200.
Recent Land Acquisiton
Dr. Wilcox also shared some of the factors that went into consideration before the district purchased 62 acres of land located north of the high school baseball and soccer fields on Hawkins Pkwy at a June 22 special meeting.
Longview ISD paid local residents Mr. and Mrs. Keith and Leslie Nance a total of $5,634,997 for the property, who then donated $1,000,000 back to the district.
Dr. Wilcox explained that property in that area is "extremely valuable due to the considerable development already occurring," such as Christus Hospital's $30 million expansion and the extension project from Fourth Street.
"If you look at other property acquisitions in that area you will find a rather large difference between the quote-unquote 'property value' and what it actually sold for," he said. "Timber and agriculture use values are always lower than most other values. The timber exemption is what the owner paid in taxes, but the use of the land now changes."
Had a local developer bought the property, Dr. Wilcox added, "they would have paid a much higher price than Longview ISD did."
"The bottom line is that Longview ISD board and administration made a wise decision to purchase this property at a fair market price, which also happened to be less than previous purchases per acre on other properties," he said. "Our view is that the acquisition of this property will prove to be an exceedingly beneficial investment for the students, employees, and community of Longview ISD."
TASB Media Honor Roll
Board members also honored ten local journalists named to the 2022 TASB Media Honor Roll.
Honorees include Mr. Morgan Smith (Longview Gameday), Mr. Frank Sides (Longview Gameday), Mr. Jamey Boyum (KLTV), Mr. Arthur Clayborn (KLTV), Mr. Blake Holland (KLTV), Ms. Marangeli Lopez (KYTX), Ms. Reagan Roy (KYTX), Mr. Frank Jefferson (KETK), Ms. Ana Conejo (Tyler Paper Español), and Mr. Tim Thorsen (M. Roberts Media).
Sponsored by the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), the Media Honor Roll recognizes media professionals statewide for fair and balanced reporting of news about public schools.
During the Superintendent's Report portion of the meeting, Dr. Wilcox presented the Resilient Schools Support Program (RSSP) Learning Acceleration Plan to trustees. The program was created through federal COVID-19 relief funds by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to offer school districts new resources to build resilience in their school communities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other items in his report included campus safety and security for the coming year, the district offering free meals for students, as well as various updates from the Office of Innovation and the district's public school charter partners.
Dr. Wilcox also discussed the federal funding shortfall of the Individuals with Disabilities Act. The 2020-21 school year saw a federal funding shortfall of 23.6 billion dollars, requiring states and districts to fund that imbalance.
Trustees also held a public hearing over the district's Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) III Use of Funds Plan and a separate hearing on the Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services (RIPICS) Plan for the 2022-23 school year.
No residents spoke up in favor or opposition to either item.
The American Rescue Plan Act ESSER III grant program was signed into law in March 2021. The period of availability for ESSER III grant funds is from March 13, 2020, to September 30, 2024 (with carryover).
Please click here to download the resolution and related documentation.
In other business...
During the course of the meeting, the LISD Board of Trustees also:
- ENDORSED Region VII Candidate Mr. Tony Raymond of Sabine ISD to fill a current position on the TASB Board of Directors;
- APPROVED Out-of-State Trip to Orlando, Florida for the Longview High School Viewettes;
- APPROVED Minutes and Board Time Use Tracker for the July 11 Regular Meeting;
- APPROVED amending Board Policy DEC (LOCAL), BQA (LOCAL), BQB (LOCAL);
- APPROVED Districtwide T-TESS Appraisers and the 2022-23 Appraisal Calendar;
- APPROVED renewal of Facility Use Contract with Child Evangelism Fellowship;
- APPROVED increasing breakfast/lunch rates for students and adults;
- APPROVED Teacher Waivers for the 2022-23 School Year;
- RECEIVED Financial Statements as of June 2022;
- APPROVED the Agreed Corrective Action Plan;
- APPROVED Budget Amendment No. 11; and
- APPROVED the Teach Worthy Program.
For more info
Trustees usually meet in the boardroom of the LISD Education Support Center (1301 E. Young Street), but often set special-called meetings at various locations around the district. The next regular meeting is tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 19, 2022.