Peaster ISD trustees attend school finance training

Peaster ISD board of trustees listened and asked questions during trainings about school finance and bonds at their meeting Thursday at the Peaster ISD Administration Building.

The purpose of the trainings were to help trustees understand how finance works moving forward, Peaster ISD Superintendent Matt Adams said. He said he hopes the sessions spurred questions and ideas on the topics for trustees.

“That’s just one of the many aspects of our jobs, or at least my job as superintendent, is to try to bring people in and to keep the board as informed as possible when it relates to school finance and school structure, so that they have as much information available to make good decisions,” Adams said.

Equity Center Deputy Executive Director Josh Sanderson explained to trustees that enrollment and local revenue has been on the rise while state contributions have stayed stagnant.

Legislators have to either make budget cuts to public education or find new revenue, Sanderson said.

Last legislative session only one bill was sent to the governor’s office for signing of about 1,200 bills sent, Sanderson said. The bill passed, House Bill 21, and set up the Texas Commission of School Finance, which is supposed to listen to stakeholders and make a recommendation to legislators.

Whatever legislators decide, it needs to work for all school districts in Texas, Sanderson said.

Board President Robbie Ballard said the inequity of how much districts are funded per student sticks out to him. Some districts get a lot more funding than others in terms of cost per student.

“It always sticks out to me that we don’t find a way in the state of Texas to balance our cost of kids so that everybody has a fair education,” Ballard said.

Trustees also listened to a presentation on school bonds from George K. Baum & Company Senior Vice President Leon Johnson.

Growth is inevitable, Johnson said, but the district should attract people who value education. Improving facilities is one way to attract these people.

Good school districts help to increase property values, Johnson said.

After introducing bond terminology and other basics, Johnson told trustees that these projects need preparation time before the bond election. The board would need to decide on the project by mid-February for a May election. The district would receive the funds in about July.

Adams said it is important that trustees understand how much planning goes into getting new facilities.