Posted Date: 08/08/2018
By: Raymondville ISD Media Staff
The Raymondville Independent School District Business Office enjoyed a banner year of accomplishments in 2017, culminating in a Superior Rating from the Texas Education Agency (TEA).
TEA established a Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) to ensure public schools are held accountable for the quality of their financial management practices. The agency hands out yearly ratings to encourage proper practices and recommend improvement if necessary.
“The Superior Rating we received is a testament to all the hard work from our departmental office staff,” said Chief Financial Officer David Longoria,” it’s a goal every business office strives to achieve. I’m also pleased to announce that the Moody’s Investor Service upgraded Raymondville ISD’s credit opinion from an A3 negative to an A3 stable. That gives our district an improved credit rating, which is always a good thing.”
Along with an improved credit rating, the RISD Business Office reported a balanced budget for 2018, paving the way for district upgrades.
The district is planning to purchase four new buses that will be equipped with WiFi capabilities, matching the current 16 buses in use to service student transportation needs.
“There are numerous benefits to having WiFi in our school buses. It improves safety, academics, and discipline in our students,” stated RISD Superintendent Stetson Roane, “With WiFi, bus locations can be tracked in case of an emergency, it allows students to work on homework assignments while riding buses, and there is fewer discipline issues, allowing drivers to focus.”
Three of the new buses will be standard issue, while one will be equipped for students with special needs.
The district also plans to upgrade its fleet vehicles (suburbans or vans) used for transporting small groups of students for various activities or to be used for teacher workshops and trainings.
Raymondville School Board President John Solis stressed the value of sustaining a balanced budget to benefit everyone in the district without having to raise taxes in the community.
“RISD has been fortunate over the past 10 years to maintain a healthy fund balance that has enabled the district to provide our students and staff with the tools and support they need to be successful without raising taxes,” said Solis, “We, as a board, will continue to work as diligently as we can to support our district to ensure that our students receive the education they rightfully deserve and our community expects.”
Another highlight from the business office was salary increases for all district employees. Pay raises in 2017 included a 1% increase for administrators, 2 % raise for teachers and 3% increase for hourly employees. Additional salary raises came on the heels of a Tax Ratification Election that was approved in September, with a 2% increase for teachers and administrators, and a $1.00 an hour raise for hourly employees.
With the passing of the 2018 budget, the board once again increased salaries with an across the board 1.5% raise for employees, and an additional contribution to health care to cover the rising costs of insurance from the state.
“The passing of the TRE was important because it dropped the tax rate by one cent, saving the community on their taxes,” explained Roane, “with the raised revenue that was brought in we were able to give teachers and district employees a salary increase. It was a win-win for everyone.”
Salaries in the district have become competitive compared to the surrounding areas, and teacher salaries increased from an overall 14th ranking to 7th.
“One of our main goals has been for district employees to know we care for them and appreciate them,” added Roane,” from our administrators, teachers, office staff to hourly employees, they are all valued in our district. I feel it is important to invest in our employees.