Brenham ISD trustees heard Tuesday about the steps the school district is taking to correct its financial situation.
Interim Chief Financial Officer Robert Lindemann presented the board with a review of the current status of the district and what ways it is working to beat its budget deficit projections.
The budget approved at the beginning of the school year accounted for $54.2 million in expenditures, with expenses projected to exceed revenue of $49.6 million by $4.58 million. According to the report given at the meeting, through October 31st, total revenue for the year is at $11.7 million, $2.1 million above the expenditures listed at $9.6 million.
Lindemann and acting superintendent Clay Gillentine went over how the district is cutting costs where it can. As 80 percent of Brenham ISD’s budget is personnel costs, a contributor has been the absorption of vacant positions when staff members depart or transition into a new role, and when the district feels it can responsibly do so. There have also been budgeted positions that have gone unfilled.
Specifically, Gillentine announced that Executive Director of Human Resources Christie Olivarez is retiring, and her last day is tomorrow (Thursday). Maintenance and Operations Director Paul Aschenbeck is resigning, effective when school returns after the holidays. Joseph Merkley, who had been serving as the truancy officer, is now the Safety Coordinator after Jay Huffty departed as Safety and Security Director earlier this school year to take a position with Medina Valley ISD.
Other initiatives include meeting with principals and department heads to explore ways to cut back, reducing travel, moving to electronic documents and software to decrease printing and mailing costs, closely monitoring investments and discontinuing the optional flexible school day program to mitigate the loss of average daily attendance (ADA).
Year-to-date, enrollment is at 4,842, above the initial enrollment of 4,816 in August. However, ADA is slightly lower at 4,451, compared to 4,467 to start the year.
The overall report was encouraging for the board, with Trustee Archer Archer saying he feels the district is headed in the right direction. Trustee Bonnie Brinkmeyer commented, “We see some light at the end of the tunnel.”
Prior to the start of the regular meeting, the board held a public hearing to review the district’s School FIRST financial accountability rating. Brenham ISD received a rating of A – Superior Achievement and a score of 98 out of 100. The rating is based off of an analysis of the district’s financial data from the 2021-22 school year.
In other business on Tuesday, trustees:
- Received an update on assessment scores.
- Discussed the status of school funding bills in the Texas Legislature’s special session.
- Approved the campus and district improvement plans with the ability to update as needed.
- Approved increasing the amount of the board scholarship, given at the end of the year to a senior entering the field of education, from $350 to $500.
- Approved the Student Health Advisory Council members and wellness plan.
- Adopted a board resolution electing candidates for membership on the Washington County Appraisal District Board of Directors. The resolution cast 360 votes for Halee Stark Kalkhake and 359 each for Joseph Antkowiak, Leslie Boehnemann Jr., Douglas Borchardt, Charles Gaskamp and John Schaer.
- Approved a resolution designating bank signatories for Bank of Brenham.