SISD approves budget

The 2012-2013 budget for the Sweetwater Independent School District (SISD) was approved during the SISD Board of Trustees' meeting, held at noon on Thursday, August 30, 2012.The budget had already been presented at a recent workshop held on August 15, which was based on the passing of the Tax Ratification Election. While several changes were listed for the new budget, one of the significant differences was that there would be an increase for all pay scales.Teachers would see a pay scale increase, with hourly increases noted. Aides and clerical workers would also see a daily raise. Furthermore, a monthly increase would be evident in the district's certification for insurance. The budget also included the addition of a counselor at Southeast, along with an assistant for band and choir at the middle school, among other changes.A brief public hearing regarding the budget was held prior to its approval, in which no comments were heard.Also approved at the meeting was the post-election canvass for the Tax Ratification Election. 227 votes were counted, with the vote passing with 218 for and 9 against. Early voting numbers comprised most of the total, with 169 votes for and 8 against.The consent agenda was additionally approved, which included the minutes from the July 16 and August 15 meetings, and the financial statements and bills for July 2012.Also part of the consent agenda were two delinquent tax lot bids, which didn't meet the necessary requirement but were accepted due to their age from as far back as 1995. One budget amendment from the 2011-2012 budget was approved as part of the consent agenda as well, which dealt with the district's food service. After six years of being in debt, administration and staff have worked hard to change the trend; the department should break even and could potentially even make a profit this year.A new hire in professional personnel was approved, and three new hires were acknowledged within paraprofessional personnel. As part of the Superintendent's Report, total tax collections were reported at 96.39% collected, or $5,481,770.94.Enrollment for the district was also presented, with the first day count coming in at 2,109 students--a decrease of 81 students from the first day of classes last year.Sweetwater ISD Superintendent Terry Pittman also gave an update on construction done this past summer around the entire district. The energy management project is near completion, which--among other changes--included the installation of new thermostats in all classrooms. In addition, the gas and diesel storage tanks at the bus barn are being adjusted. Changes were also made in lighting, in which a distinct difference is evident in the evening hours at the Sweetwater High School. As a result of the renovations, the district expects to see significant savings.Pittman also gave an update to the first week of classes, citing a great start to the week and praising the positive attitudes seen around campuses. Tweaks are still being made within district transportation as the school year continues, with the utmost importance being placed on student safety.