They called it a peaceful protest, but their efforts did not sway enough trustees during their evening meeting as again the board denied the budget and tax rate.
By the time the meeting started, about 60 students were seated together in the back of the cafeteria. Up front, about 35 more people sat to hear what the board would do this time.
Again the school district’s board was presented with the same $1.17 tax rate and corresponding budget they had denied last week.
Carole Estes, business manager, told trustees during a presentation, “If the rate goes to $1.17, the overall tax rate goes down by eight cents, and the kids get $2 million.”
She reminded them that this is the same tax rate and budget they had been discussing for seven meetings and approved publishing as a public notice as under consideration for a vote.
Trustee Chris Lamprecht pointed out that if the trustees go with the $1.10 rate, the amount that does not fund a $2.5 million note the administration is proposing to purchase, that residents would see a decrease of 15 cents.
Estes told the trustees that the seven cents would fund the purchase of a 10-year note designed, among other things, to fund the purchase of additional band instruments, pay for air conditioning the old gym and improve overall school security.
Trustee Gabriel Hinojosa voiced his concern that they were again only being given one option — one tax rate and one budget.
He also was concerned that the budget, as proposed, did not allow for a way to continue to fund increased salaries in the future years.
“What about next year?” he said. “What about the following years?”
“In two or three years, are we going to be laying people off?”
Keith Petrus, board president, voiced concern that many of the questions being asked had been answered or should have been asked earlier in the budget process.
“We have been going through this process for months,” he said. “All of these questions you are hearing right now have been discussed.”
As a board, he said, they met and hammered out a budget based upon the $1.17 tax rate.
“All of that process went out the window for reasons I do not understand.
“It is not supposed to be an adversarial process.
“We are a team of eight.”
Ultimately though, they could not agree, and the budget again failed.
Only three of the trustees voted in favor of it — Salvador Soto Jr., Lamprecht and Petrus.
During a meeting last week, trustees voted down the same two items.
The total proposed tax rate for the district, which includes the amount required to repay bonds, was $1.55376, compared to $1.52189 last year.
The board has met at least seven times to discuss the budget based on that initial proposed rate.
On July 17, a notice was placed in this newspaper notifying residents of the proposed tax rate.
The additional money coming into the district would have helped repay notes the school administration had hoped to sell in order to make improvements at the district.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.