The Lufkin ISD Board of Trustees talked about the preliminary A-F Accountability Ratings and the budget/tax rate during a special meeting Monday morning.

Barbara Lazarine, assistant superintendent of education services and accountability, spoke to the board about the preliminary ratings the district had received from the Texas Education Agency.

A-F Accountability is a rating system created by the Texas Legislature during the 85th legislative session that rates schools based on three domains: Student Achievement, School Progress and Closing the Gaps.

Preliminary ratings were given to districts today, and the final ratings will be available to districts on Wednesday and the public on Thursday.

Lazarine told the board that LISD had received an 89 or a B overall grade, which Lazarine said the district is determined to tip to an A next year.

“You’ll see that the majority of the campuses raised their scores from the year before, some of them enough to tip them into the next grading category,” Lazarine said.

“I applaud the success,” board president Scott Skelton said. “I know it’s been hard work from the top to give the teachers the tools they need — I think you’ve done a great job — and I applaud the teachers. This was not an accident.”

This just doesn’t happen,” board member Allison Langston said. “This is so much work for years. It’s phenomenal.”

Board member Hall Henderson suggested the board and administration do something special to acknowledge the success.

Chief Financial Officer Charlotte Bynum presented a proposed budget and tax rate to the board. The board approved a proposed tax rate of $1.3183 for the 2019-20 school year.

The rate is made up of a $1.0683 maintenance and operating rate, which is down from $1.17 becauses of state compression, and a 25-cent interest and sinking rate. Bynum said that the district will lose $2.5 million in local revenue from this compression.

She also said that the average taxpayer with a $125,000 home with a $25,000 exemption will pay $1,318 — $131.70 less than last year’s $1,450.

The drop in local revenue is well made up for by a $10 million increase in state funding, Bynum said.

Out of the budget, $1,118,600 will be used for improvement projects created through projection meetings with various departments and campuses.

Some of these improvements include upgrading the media centers in Anderson, Brandon, Brookhollow, Coston and Slack Elementary schools; purchasing seven vehicles worth $25,000 each to replace 18-year-old vehicles in the maintenance/custodial/grounds fleet; and replacing 19 security cameras plus adding 19 security cameras to the district.

A public tax rate hearing will be held at 6 p.m. on Aug. 27.

Grace Juarez’s email address is grace.juarez@lufkindailynews.com.

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