The Board of Trustees of the Austin Independent School District has approved a $716 million operating budget for 2010-2011. The District will also send another $128 million to the state, under the so-called “recapture” provisions of Texas school finance law. Trustees voted to maintain the District’s current operating tax rate of $1.079 per $100 of assessed property value. The separate bond debt repayment tax rate will be $0.148, as previously authorized by Austin voters in 2004 and 2008 bond referendums. The combined property tax rate for Austin ISD taxpayers will be $1.227 per $100 of assessed property value.
Superintendent Carstarphen presented the following details:
· The budget is balanced, and cures the projected structural deficit of $7.1 million.
· Includes $13.1 million in reductions, reallocations, and efficiencies.
· Funds the state-authorized one-step pay increase for teachers, counselors, librarians, speech pathologists and others on the professional salary scale, averaging 0.85 percent. There is no increase for classified employees or administrators.
· Appropriates $6.3 million from Fund Balance to cover "Mission Critical" items in the District's Strategic Plan. These include: Turnaround programs for low-performing schools; increasing the number of elementary school counselors; and developing Signature Programs, such as fine arts and IB.
The Recommended Budget also includes funding for the District's new Dual Language program, and for continuation of full-day Pre-Kindergarten.
Earlier in the evening, during Citizens Communication, Trustees heard from Rae Nwosu, co-chair of Education Austin, who said that her organization was withdrawing its request that the Board propose to Austin voters an increased property tax rate, through a so-called Tax Ratification Election on November 2.
Trustees also voted to discontinue for the 2010-2011 Budget year, the additional tax exemption that has been afforded to residential properties receiving historical designation. The program is authorized by the City of Austin.
Still uncertain is the available of the so-called federal EduJobs funding, and whether it can be used to provide salary stipends to educators who provide “direct service” to students. Reportedly, AISD will receive approximately $17.5 million in federal education employment funding, although Superintendent Carstarphen told Trustees, “We can’t be sure until we see it.”
Superintendent’s Performance Evaluation
Board President Mark Williams reported to the community that Trustees have completed their annual performance evaluation of Superintendent Carstarphen.
“Under Dr. Carstarphen’s leadership, Austin ISD had a banner year in 2009-2010,” Mr. Williams said. “The District made gains in virtually every TAKS standard, and we went from seven AU schools to just one. Other successes under the state accountability system included:
· Ninety-nine percent of our schools were rated Academically Acceptable or better.
· More than one-third of our schools moved up one or two levels in the State accountability rankings. We have 32 Exemplary and 36 Recognized schools in our District – nearly two-thirds of all our schools.
· There will be no new AU schools for the upcoming year.
· At a district-wide level, AISD missed being a Recognized district by one percentage point (79 percent pass rate in Math for African Americans), with Reading, Writing and Social Studies performance at an Exemplary level (all subgroups with a pass rate at 90 percent, or better) and Science at a Recognized level (all subgroups with a pass rate of 80 percent or better.)
“The Board realizes that it will likely not get any easier,” the Mr. Williams said. “The Superintendent will have to continue to manage the large and complex business that is the Austin Independent School District. In addition, the Board expects that the Superintendent and her team will continue to improve student achievement through implementation of the Strategic Plan to meet the high goals established by the Board and desired by our community.”
Beginning with the 2007-2008 school year, the District made a serious commitment to performance pay and incentive bonuses for Austin teachers and campus administrators. To date, AISD has paid out over $10 million through the District’s Strategic Compensation initiative, known as REACH, and other mechanisms, and the program continues to grow.
“When Dr. Carstarphen was hired, the Board extended this concept of performance pay and incentive bonuses to the Superintendent level. The criteria upon which Dr. Carstarphen would be eligible for performance pay was approved by the Board in a public meeting on October 26, 2009, and were widely reported in the news media,” Mr. Williams noted.
“Dr. Carstarphen’s performance bonus objectives for school year 2009-2010 consisted of two components. She was eligible to receive a performance bonus of up to $25,000, based on the Board’s evaluation of the District’s performance against clearly-identified measures associated with the state and federal accountability systems. Because the District met most, but not all, of these performance objectives, Dr. Carstarphen has earned $19,000,” Mr. Williams said.
“Further, due to the significant ongoing pressures, resource demands and many other inherited challenges in her first year (including a state ordered school closure and an oversight management team ordered by the TEA), which have been faced by the District over the past few years, the Board established the possibility of additional incentive compensation totaling up to $22,500 if the three multi-year AU schools - Reagan High School, Pearce Middle School and Garcia Middle School - achieved a rating of Academically Acceptable or better for the 2009-20210 school year. I am happy to report that all three schools were rated Academically Acceptable this year, and thus Dr. Carstarphen has earned an additional $22,500, making her total performance bonus for the 2009-2010 school year amount to $41,500,” Mr. Williams reported.
Listen to School Board President Mark Williams: