There was more good news for Magnolia ISD employees following the Board of Trustees meeting Aug. 20. According to Chief Financial Officer Erich Morris, all full-time MISD employees will get a three percent pay raise and additionally the district will increase its contribution to employee health insurance by $50 per month. This will increase the contribution per participating employee to $275 per month.
Morris said the pay raise was good timing, given that the district had not been able to provide raises in recent years, due to state funding concerns.
“The school board felt like this was the right thing to do and is within our budget this year,” he said.
Morris explained the new insurance contribution amount is more than the minimum required contribution of $225 per month. The district conducted a survey to ensure they were in line with other districts before arriving at the $275 per month figure.
“The district performed a survey of surrounding districts and became aware that other districts were contributing a bit more,” he said. “Taking that into consideration and with premiums rising year after year, the district administration recommended the increase to the board.”
The board also committed $500,000 for district-wide technology needs, which will primarily be used for classroom computer upgrades and replacements.
“This isn’t really new funding. The intent is to replenish the technology funds that were lost during the budget cuts from recent years,” said Morris.
The final approved budget number is $83.6 million, which is $3.8 million more than the $79.8 million previously projected. Besides the new staff benefits, all 16 new staff positions throughout the district --- six teachers and ten paraprofessionals --- were approved.
Morris said that the district decided to come up with a conservative budget this year, since the upcoming legislative session is expected by many to cut state funding even more.
“It is a challenge to budget when there is fear of the unknown,” he said. “We are balancing the fear of the unknown with the needs of our folks and doing it in a way that is conservative. We must look at what’s possibly coming in the future.”
The board is still estimating the new student growth rate to be one percent, with enrollment expected to peak by October.