Welcome from Keith McBurnett
Welcome to Burnet CISD. Located in the Hill Country, Burnet CISD is spread out over 700 square miles and serves 3,100 students in 6 campuses. Burnet CISD has a rich history of excellence in academics and extracurricular activities, and is committed to CRAFTING the FUTURE. That future is as unique as each of our students. For some that means preparing them for college or a trade school, while others it means preparing them to earn a certification or enter the workforce with demonstrable skills. Our students are excelling inside the classroom and outside the classroom. I am proud to be the superintendent of Burnet CISD and to be a member of this wonderful community. You will find that there is a real sense of care and community within the District. If I can be of assistance to you, please feel free to contact me.
In order to keep District stakeholders informed, I write a newspaper article twice a month and post it on the District's website. You will find the three most recent articles below.
August 16, 2017
Where did the summer go? It is hard to believe that next Monday, August 21 the 2017-2018 School Year begins. We have been busy planning for the new school year which includes hiring new teachers, wrapping up the budget and getting the campuses cleaned and ready for students and teachers. You have probably noticed all of the paving and painting projects taking place across the District. Not only does that kind of work make everything look nicer, but it is also an important part of our preventative maintenance program. In addition, by the end of October, all exterior doors in the District will be set up on a pass card system. This system will allow for doors to be locked and unlocked remotely in the mornings, evenings and during any possible emergency situations. Once we wrapped up all of the projects from the 2014 Bond Program we realized over $800,000 in savings that we have reinvested in other facility improvement projects. As I have said before, the work we have done the past three years has created safer, more efficient and better learning environments for our students.
The Board of Trustees has continued to meet during the summer. On August 21 at 6:00 p.m. the Board will hold a Budget and Tax Rate Hearing and then later that same evening the Board will consider approving the 2017-2018 budget during its Regular Meeting. As part of the budget adoption process, the Board will be voting to lower the I&S tax rate by 2 cents. The Board of Trustees and administration are committed to having the lowest possible tax rate while planning for the future and maintaining an outstanding educational program for students.
A looming challenge for Burnet CISD is that we are projected to start making recapture payments to the State of Texas in 2018. That means that we will send local tax dollars to the State to be redistributed to other school districts in the State. We are reviewing options to manage recapture in the future and we continue to hope that the Legislature will do their job by meaningfully addressing school finance. In 2011 local taxes made up 54.7% of the cost of education in the State of Texas. Today, local taxes make up 68.3% of the cost of education. The State is not meeting its obligation to fund public education, but rather is pushing more of the burden to local communities.
As the school year begins, let me take this opportunity to remind everyone to slow down in school zones and stop for school buses loading and unloading. Please also be patient the first few days of school as traffic is always heavier at the start of school and everyone is learning the traffic patterns at each campus. The increased traffic and learning curve means that bus routes will likely not run on time the first week of school. To help parents manage information about transportation, the District has a web based program called InfoFinderI that allows parents to look up bus information like the route number, stop times and stop locations for their children. In addition, the District is unveiling a new app called SafeStop. This app will allow parents to monitor the progress of their child’s bus and will predict an arrival time to a bus stop. Parents can find the link to InfoFinderI and receive information on how to download and utilize the SafeStop app by going to www.burnetcisd.net > Departments > Transportation.
Mark your calendars for Meet the Bulldogs! I hope you can join us on Thursday, August 17 at 6:00 p.m. at the Burnet High School Gym for food and fellowship as the community is introduced to our athletes and teams for the fall sports. Team introductions will begin at 6:30 p.m.
Finally, the entire Burnet CISD staff is excited to welcome parents and students back to school. We have spent considerable time talking about communication and the type of environment we want to create for our students. During the school year, it is natural for a parent to have questions or even a concern at their child’s campus. It is important that questions or concerns be dealt with by the person closest to the issue so that they can be resolved in the best and most efficient manner possible. I encourage parents to discuss their questions or concerns through informal conferences with the appropriate teacher, principal or other campus administrator. When concerns are expressed as soon as possible, it allows for early resolution at the lowest possible administrative level. We look forward to working with you to make the 2017-2018 a great school year for our students!
May 17, 2017
The District has been working on developing its budget since January and has conducted two budget workshops to date, one in March and one in May. The next budget workshop is scheduled for June 5. A key data point in developing the District’s budget is property values. County property value estimates were provided to the District by the Burnet Central Appraisal District on April 25. The District had been working under the conservative assumption of a 2% property value increase for the upcoming school year, but the actual estimate came in higher at 6%.
Based on comments I have heard and read, I want to make clear that Burnet CISD does not determine property values. The District does set two tax rates each year- Maintenance and Operation (M&O) for day to day operation of the District (salaries, utilities, transportation, etc.) and Interest & Sinking (I&S) to pay off the District's debt related to bond programs. The District's M&O rate is currently $1.04 and is as low as it can be without being penalized by the state. The I&S rate was lowered by a penny in August 2016 and is currently $0.28. Because of rising property values, the Board of Trustees is looking at strategies that would lower the I&S tax rate next school year and pay off existing debt earlier than originally scheduled. The Board of Trustees is committed to having the lowest possible tax rate while maintaining a commitment to planning for the future, offering the highest quality educational programs and being fiscally responsible while servicing its debt. Approval of the final tax rates will be made when the budget is adopted this August.
The increased property value means that the property wealth per student in Burnet CISD is projected to reach a threshold defined in law which will result in Burnet CISD being subject to “recapture.” This means that Burnet CISD for the first time ever will be required to “share the wealth” through the “Robin Hood” school finance plan by paying “recapture.” These recapture funds are then sent to the State for redistribution among other school districts. Based on current estimates, Burnet CISD would make its first recapture payment to the State in the 2018-2019 school year. To plan for this, the District is including a $200,000 line item in the upcoming budget so that we have the funds identified to make this payment. Only funds generated by the M&O tax rate are subject to recapture. All funds generated by the I&S tax rate must stay in Burnet CISD.
Because the State adopts its budget for a biennium, Burnet CISD always plans a two year budget framework so that we are looking ahead for any possible budget challenges like recapture. We take very seriously our responsibility to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.
To wrap up, I want to share six words with you- Your Generosity. Our Community. Their Future. These six words capture the mission of the Hill Country Community Foundation (HCCF). The HCCF is a non-profit organization committed to the support of civic, health and educational programs that enrich the lives of citizens in Burnet. The HCCF invests in students and the community by offering a scholarship to EVERY student graduating from Burnet High School or Quest High School that is pursuing post high school education or training.
Tomorrow, May 18 at 7:00 p.m., the HCCF will award over $300,000 in scholarships to Burnet and Quest High School students. Since 1983 the HCCF has awarded $4.6 million in scholarships to Burnet graduates. That is an incredible investment in our young people, and a commitment that you don’t find in other communities- big or small. If you want to see this community’s investment in our future at work, feel free to join us at Burnet High School on May 18- It is a special evening.
April 26, 2017
All research indicates that reading is the foundation of all other learning, and it is no secret that the Math, Science and Social Studies STAAR tests measure students’ ability to read as much as their knowledge about the content. There have been lots of good things happening in Burnet CISD in terms of reading instruction, but there has never been one systematic and structured approach utilized across all grade levels throughout the District. To address this issue, the District has developed an initiative it is calling Literacy 2020. Beginning next year, Burnet CISD is adopting a literacy system that focuses on the following components:
• Leveled Classroom libraries in every classroom PK-5 and in reading classes 6-12 that includes authentic literature
• Structured, Guided, Systematic approach to teaching reading PK-12
• Comprehensive, ongoing progress monitoring
• High quality professional development
• Ongoing coaching for teachers to build capacity
• Defined Home / School connection
• Motivational components built in
• Appropriate for all levels of learners
Our unwavering commitment as a District is to invest the time and resources to ensure that students are reading on grade level throughout their school experience. The Board of Trustees kept that commitment last week by approving funding for Literacy 2020.
The largest-ever international study of reading found that the single most important predictor of academic success is the amount of time children spend reading books—more important, even, than economic or social status. That is why one of the foundational expectations for this literacy system is an expectation that students will select books that match their level of reading skill—books they can read comfortably with a high level of accuracy and comprehension and have dedicated time for reading at school and at home. In addition, students will continuously be progress monitored on their reading achievement, and teachers will intervene when students are not mastering reading skills.
Our teachers will be trained on the new literacy system this summer, and we will be sharing information with parents at the start of next school year. The biggest support parents will be able to provide to their children, especially at the elementary level, will be encouraging the at home reading expectation. Like exercising, if you do it every day, you are guaranteed to improve! CRAFTING the FUTURE means creating pathways for students as they launch into college, trade school or a career, but it also means providing a strong foundation in the basics.