Peaster ISD board of trustees approved the budget and tax rate during their meeting Thursday at the Peaster ISD Administration Building.

Trustees adopted a tax rate of $1.37 per $100 valuation, which breaks down to 97 cents for maintenance and operations and 40 cents for interest and sinking. The 2019-20 rate is a decrease from the previous year’s rate of $1.44.

The general fund budget is balanced at $12,659,130, which is higher than what was originally proposed during the last meeting because of an increase in average daily attendance, Interim Superintendent Rod Townsend said.

According to a presentation during the meeting, taxable property values in Peaster increased by about 19.8 percent for a total of about $427.56 million in tax year 2019.

The budget is about $1.8 million more than the adopted budget from last year, and projected state and local revenue is expected to increase from 2018-19.

During the last state legislative session, lawmakers passed House Bill 3, the state’s school finance reform, to put more state money into schools and provide some relief to taxpayers. Part of HB 3 includes state-mandated salary increases with about 30 percent of new funds going to raise pay for all staff except administrators, and 75 percent of that portion raising pay especially for teachers, counselors, nurses and librarians.

Teachers, nurses, librarians and counselors are expected to get at least an 8 percent raise while auxiliary staff are getting a 6 percent raise, Townsend said.

Townsend updated board members about athletic ticket prices Thursday. During the last board meeting, trustees approved eliminating Greyhound Passes that allowed Peaster taxpayers into games for free. At the time, former superintendent Matt Adams said tickets for varsity football would cost $10 per adult and $5 for students while volleyball and basketball games would cost $4 per adult and $2 for students.

For varsity football, tickets will be $5 for adults and $3 for students, Townsend said. For seventh grade, eighth grade and junior varsity football games, the prices will be $4 for adults and $2 for students. The prices for varsity, junior varsity and ninth-grade volleyball and basketball games will still cost $4 per adult and $2 for students. For volleyball and basketball seventh and eighth grade games, tickets cost $3 for adults and $2 for students.

The reason behind eliminating the passes was to pay for additional officials and costs, Board President Mike Bowling said. 

The UIL district executive committee, made up of superintendents within that district, decides on ticket prices, Townsend said, and the committee set those prices for PISD volleyball and basketball games. Because PISD will not be in a UIL district for football until next year, the committee has not set football ticket prices yet. Townsend set those prices after doing some research into what other districts had set.

“I felt like at this point and time it would be more beneficial for us to charge a little less and try to get the community interest up than it would be to try to charge $10 or even $6 or $7 and reduce the number of people who show up,” Townsend said. “We need everyone that we can get here to support the kids and to create the interest in the program, especially on the football side.”

District employees, senior citizens, uniformed first responders, UIL and district pass holders and in-season athletes get free entry, according to a board document.

The board also approved:

• Employer-paid contributions.

• Removing former superintendent Matt Adams and former administrative secretary CeCe Grimes from all bank accounts. They also approved additional co-signers.

• Wire transfer agreement with Spirit of Texas.

Peaster ISD school board meetings typically take place on the third Thursday of each month.

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