By Will Watson
LATEXO—The Board of Trustees of the Latexo Independent School District (LISD) met on Monday night to consider a working budget for the 2013-2014 school year.
“What I’m showing for 2013-2014 right now, the first time through—we’re pretty close on this; we’ve got a couple of things still to add to it, but we’re pretty close on this—and I’m showing a surplus of $6,180, basically,” said superintendent Don Elsom in introducing the proposed budget for the upcoming school year, which equaled out to $4.04 million in total expenditures.
“That’s fantastic, isn’t it?” asked Board President Mike Furrh.
“Well, yeah it is,” replied Elsom. “It gets tight to do that, but yeah, it’s doing good.”
This is an improvement upon an already well figured Elsom budget system, which has broken even during the last two school years. Before that, LISD had weathered through a few years of being in the red.
One issue arose over the section of the proposed budget dealing with lunchroom costs.
“That other ‘Operating Transfers Out,’ that is a number we put in there, every year, to try and take care of anything we may go over in cost in the lunchroom,” said Elsom. “We estimate this: sometimes we hit it right, sometimes we don’t.”
“Where are we going to end up with [lunchroom costs] this year?” asked Furrh.
“The first time through it doesn’t look good,” replied Elsom.
The problem arose over the fact that lunchroom costs didn’t fall from the previous year’s costs which were naturally higher than normal due to the District’s contracting of an outside food service consultant. The contracting out of food services is being done away with and replaced by a normal cook staff for the 2013-2014 year.
“We’re breaking it down to see where the problem came out to be on this, because it didn’t go down from the year before,” said Elsom. “So that bothers me because it should’ve gone down again.”
“Last year was the first full year that we had a consultant, and I’d like to know where we wound up: plus, minus, what that cost us, was that a good idea, you know,” stated Furrh. “Apparently, if we’re way behind, is that the reason we’re behind?”
“And that’s what we’re trying to figure out, where the issue is coming from,” replied Elsom.
The issue, according to Elsom, is not something to be too worried about. “To be honest with you, most schools come out in the red in the lunchroom almost every year,” said Elsom. But he noted that it shouldn’t be as bad as it has been, citing that costs exceeded the budgeted amount by a considerable number.
“If you look here, there was $46,000 in 2009-2010, and that’s what you pay for a teacher,” said Elsom. “I don’t want to take a teacher’s salary out because the lunchroom was too far in the hole.”
The discussion of food and lunchroom costs was tabled until further investigation could be done to figure out where the monies were going, which will be better understood after school begins and lunches are being served.
Other issues dealt with at the meeting included the removal of all but one hallway’s worth of unusable lockers. It was noted by Elsom that removing the lockers would eliminate time spent in the hallways between classes as well as some pest and space problems. The lockers are to be stored away in case the situation needs to be reversed.
The board also approved the creation of four at-will positions: two teaching positions at the high school, one integrated pest management/wetland management/campus security position, and one yearbook/campus testing coordinator position.
Three more meetings of the LISD Board of Trustees are slated for later this month. One will be on Aug. 12 at 6 p.m.to approve a proposed tax rate, a regularly scheduled meeting will be held on Aug. 19 at 6:30 p.m., and one on Aug. 26 to approve the budget, hear from the public about the upcoming bond issue, and decide whether or not said bond issue will go up for voting on the November ballot.
Will Watson can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org