David Flowers

David Flowers

HUNTINGTON — Huntington school trustees set the tax rate and adopted the budget for the 2020-21 school year on Monday night.

After a public hearing, the tax rate was set to $1.2269, a reduction of $0.0136 from the 2019-20 tax rate of $1.2405.

The maintenance and operation rate was set to $1.0547 — a compression of the rate from 2019-20 of $1.0683. Superintendent David Flowers said he expects the M&O rate to continue to go down over the next three years.

The interest and sinking rate was set to $0.1722. That rate may increase should the public vote for the bond proposal in the November election.

The budget was set to $16.730 million in revenue and $17.8 million in expenses.

Glenn Frank, assistant superintendent of business and operations, said $1.2 million of the budget has been set to cover the replacement of the roofs on the intermediate and high school campuses, which they anticipate pulling from fund balance.

“If you take the $1.2 million out, our revenue would actually be over our projected budget,” Frank said. “That’s still not a scary number. Historically, we’re going to spend somewhere between 5% and 10% under our projected budget because of the controls and monitoring we have in place. You’re just not going to zero those lines out.”

The budget includes a $1,000 raise for all teachers in addition to their step-up raises.

Frank reintroduced a conversation about the purchase of a skid steer for a little more than $48,000. The board agreed the purchase was necessary so that the school would not have to rent a machine every year, and the item stayed in the budget.

Flowers also spoke about the district’s ongoing plans for the 2020-21 school year. He said that while the district does not have a lot to go on from the state about the daily operations of a school year during a pandemic yet, there are things they are doing to prepare.

The state will be sending the district somewhere in the neighborhood of 14,000 masks, 7,000 pairs of gloves, 12 thermometers and 154 gallons of hand sanitizer by Aug. 1, he said.

The district has purchased automatic sanitizing dispensers to put in the hallways and cafeterias for students and staff to use throughout the day. They will be purchasing mats to prevent spill from the dispensers from harming the wax on the floors.

“We think this will help our parents see we’re being safe, having extra precautions — not only what will be in the classroom but in the halls, commons areas and things like that,” Flowers said.

The district is also purchasing four Clorox 360 electrostatic sprayers (one for each campus) to be used to sanitize entire classrooms in a short period of time. Flowers said the re-entry time is five minutes after a classroom has been sprayed.

“If someone was ill in the classroom, they’re gone to lunch or whatever, we could spray, and it will go up under the tables, over the top,” Flowers said. “We were able to see this demonstration at SFA, and they even ordered, I think, 35 of them.”

They also purchased 10 MP2 Double Sensors to help monitor student temperatures as they enter campus each day. By forehead or wrist, 70 students can be checked per minute for an abnormal temperature of above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit per CDC regulations, Flowers said.

“I spent some time researching this and actually sat down on a Zoom call to watch it work,” he said.

The district is getting bombarded every day with people trying to sell the school something, but this deal stuck out to him, Flowers said. United Airlines also has purchased this product for use during the pandemic, he said.

He said he hopes to learn more from a meeting with the commissioner of education at 3 p.m. today.

The annual opening convocation is set for Aug. 11, and the first day in school is set for Aug. 13.

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

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