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.
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.
April 12, 2017
As many of you know, each year the Marble Falls Mustangs and Burnet Bulldogs compete in football in a game that is known as the Battle of Burnet County. Although we compete on the football field against each other, four years ago Marble Falls ISD and Burnet CISD partnered in writing a 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant that resulted in the funding and development of high quality afterschool programs in both school districts, and in this case the Mustangs and the Bulldogs were both winners.
I was disappointed to hear President Trump’s Budget Director Mick Mulvaney publicly state, “There’s no demonstrable evidence they’re (afterschool programs) actually helping results.” I can’t disagree more with this statement. I would have been more understanding if Mr. Mulvaney would have said there are greater priorities today in the federal budget other than afterschool programs, but saying there is no evidence of results is just plain wrong.
More than 800 students benefit from the afterschool program offered in Burnet CISD. Burnet CISD regularly submits data as part of the grant requirement and the data in Burnet CISD indicate that the students that participate in the afterschool program outperform students that do not participate in the afterschool program in the areas of attendance, grades and discipline at all of our campuses.
Our afterschool program helps working families keep young people safe during the hours after school when juvenile crime peaks and improves academic achievement. These programs also provide children with physical activity and engage them in their learning.
My hope is that the Congress will put forth a federal budget that continues to help support communities like Marble Falls and Burnet offer high quality after school programs. They make a difference and we can prove it with data.
Our local officials are just as important as the representatives that we send to Austin and to Washington D.C. On Tuesday, April 18, you will have a chance to hear from school board candidates. The candidate forum is being sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and will take place at the Reed Building (402 East Jackson). Doors open at 6:00 p.m. for an informal mixer. At 6:30 p.m. the question and answer session with Board candidates will take place. Specifically, Mark Kincaid, Kerry Carroll and Ross Behrens representing Place 7 will be answering questions. Because Suzanne Brown in Place 3 is running unopposed, per the rules of the forum, she will not be participating in the forum.
At the March Board Meeting, the administration presented an initiative we are calling Literacy 2020. The goal of Literacy 2020 is to utilize a systematic and structured reading approach in grades PK-12 along with targeted interventions in order to plug the leaks in the literacy pipeline and ensure all students are reading on grade level by grade 3 and beyond. What we know is that reading is the foundation for all other learning and we want to provide a system that supports teachers in ensuring that we are all pulling in the same direction when it comes to teaching reading. Some of the major components of the initiative include: 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; Defined home/school connection and Built in motivational components. The Board will be considering approval of the initiative in April so that we can implement beginning next school year.
As a reminder Friday, April 14 is a school holiday for staff and students in Burnet CISD. It hard to believe that we will have less than 30 days of school left after the three day weekend- I hope everyone enjoys the time off.