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School lowers taxes, state score increases

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Trustees approve 11-cent cut; accountability rating up to 87

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KERENS–Kerens ISD trustees met Monday, Aug. 26 and set the 2019-20 property tax rate at $1.33 per $100 valuation, which is 11 cents less than last fiscal year.
The school board also learned that Kerens ISD received an 87 on the state’s 2019 accountability scorecard, up from an 82 earned in 2018. That puts Kerens ISD in a tie with Dawson as the second-highest rated school district in Navarro County, behind Mildred (at 91) and ahead of Corsicana (86), Rice (86), Frost (83) and Blooming Grove (82).
Also, KISD is the only district in the county to receive a distinction in post-secondary readiness, while also earning a distinction in mathematics and improving its scores across the board in every accountability category. The ratings system, in the second year of its current format, is largely based on state standardized tests and graduation rates, according to the Texas Education Agency.
As for taxes, Kerens ISD was able to lower its rate from $1.44 per $100 valuation because of higher property values, driven in large part by non-municipal, non-water pipeline construction within the district, said Jim Kendall, Kerens ISD business manager.
Kerens ISD’s 2019 appraisal roll information, provided July 25 by Navarro Central Appraisal District (Navarro CAD), shows $312,808,347 in freeze-adjusted taxable property, which KISD Superintendent Martin Brumit said is $60 million more than in 2017, which is when district voters approved the current school construction project through the sale of bonds.
Within the overall tax rate, the school district adopted a lower-than-expected interest and sinking fund (I&S) portion of the tax rate, at 36 cents per $100 valuation, which is generally used to pay off bonded indebtedness.
The I&S rate will allow KISD to meet its bond-payment obligations of $1.085 million over the next fiscal year, according to Kendall. The other part of the tax rate, which funds maintenance and operations, is set at 97 cents per $100 valuation.
In other KISD school board business, trustees heard the district’s preliminary FIRST report from the state, which stands for the “Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas.” The FIRST report covers the 2017-18 school year, with the corresponding fiscal year ending June 30, 2018. Overall, Kerens received a 92, with three areas needing improvement outlined by Kendall.
First, the district tallied 14.7 percent on the administrative cost ratio indicator (exceeding the threshold of 13 percent), scored 73 percent on the long-term liabilities to total assets indicator (surpassing a 60-percent threshold) and having 77 days of cash-on-hand for operational expenses (with 90 days being the benchmark).
Trustees also adopted the district’s annual property and casualty insurance policy premium, which increased from about $45,000 to $65,464. Brumit said the increase reflected hikes across the state because of recent insurance payouts stemming from events such as Hurricane Harvey.
The board also moved its November, December and January regular meeting dates because of holidays and school breaks that coincide with the fourth Monday of those months. The new dates are all on Mondays: Nov. 18, Dec. 16 and Jan. 13.
Further, during the meeting, Brumit congratulated Kerens Secondary School Principal Greg Priddy and KISD Student Services Director Brad Atkeisson for attaining their superintendent certifications. The superintendent also announced Kerens ISD’s enrollment as 552 students.


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