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 on a regular basis and post it on the District's website. You will find the most recent articles below.
April 25, 2018
As I shared this past December, the 5-year grant funding the ACE Afterschool Program will expire in July. The District is in the process of applying for Cycle 10 of the grant to fund an additional five years. Because awarding of the grant will not be announced until sometime in July, the District is developing two plans: one assumes BCISD receives the ACE grant and the other assumes BCISD sustains an afterschool program for the 2018-2019 school year with local funding.
If the District is awarded the ACE grant, then parents can expect the same high quality ACE Afterschool Program serving more than 800 students a day. If the District is not awarded the ACE grant, then the District is prepared to offer a new, locally funded afterschool program.
At the April 16 Board Meeting, the BCISD Board of Trustees allocated funds to underwrite a majority of the costs of a non-grant funded afterschool program. This locally funded afterschool program would be offered at all BCISD elementary campuses Monday-Thursday from 3:15-6:15 p.m. The afterschool program will have a new name, but will continue to offer homework help, tutorials and fun, enrichment activities in a safe environment. The three biggest changes with the locally funded afterschool program are:
The enrollment will be limited to 105 students at each elementary campus.
Transportation will not be provided.
A very affordable fee of $20 per month will be required.
In order to plan for the 2018-2019 school year, the District will be hosting an afterschool program registration event in May. Registering in May will secure a spot in the afterschool program for the 2018-2019 school year. More information on the afterschool registration event will be coming out soon, so be watching the District's website and Facebook page.
In addition to allocating funds to support an afterschool program, the Board also voted to take action to save money for taxpayers. On April 16, the Burnet CISD Board of Trustees approved the early payment of bonds totaling $2,550,000. This early payment of bonds, called Bond Defeasance, is a strategy used to decrease the interest expense paid on the District's bonds. This specific defeasance saves Burnet CISD over $200,000 in interest payments. The early payment also lowers the District's future annual debt payments, thus providing flexibility for future tax rates and the ability to address future District facility needs with limited to zero impact of the tax rate.
Finally, I want to wrap up by sharing 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.
You can see the Foundation at work on May 17 at 7:00 p.m., as the HCCF will award over $300,000 in scholarships to Burnet and Quest High School students. Since 1983 the HCCF has awarded $4.88 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 17- It is a special evening.
April 11, 2018
Last week the Rotary Club of Burnet gave away over $13,000 in community grants to local non-profit organizations and service organizations. As a member of Rotary, I am very proud of its community grants, and it is another reason that you can add to my list of why I love living and working in Burnet. This community gives back to its citizens and there are hundreds of volunteers across the community working to serve people in need. Kudos to Rotary for helping out these organizations and a big thank you to the local non-profits and service organizations that exemplify the Rotary motto of, “Service Above Self.”
About this time each year, I normally would remind readers about the upcoming School Board Elections, but that won’t be happening this year. Due to only one candidate filing in each place for the BCISD School Board Election, the Board of Trustees approved the Order of Cancellation and the Certification of Unopposed Candidates at the March 5 Special Meeting. Incumbents Angela Moore (Place 2) and Robby Robertson (Place 6) and new Board member Ross Behrens (Place 6) will be sworn in at the May 21 Regular School Board Meeting.
At the April 16 Board Meeting, I will have the opportunity to recognize outgoing Board Member Jeff Hullum, a 1978 graduate of Burnet High School, for his outstanding service to Burnet CISD. Mr. Hullum served on the Board from 1998 until 2005 and then again most recently from 2009 until now. There is no doubting Mr. Hullum’s love for Burnet and the Bulldogs. His leadership and contributions to the Board will be greatly missed. As he says, “I take great pride in building and promoting a school system that is the backbone of this city. I want what is best for all students that come through our school system. If I can be a part of this process and help all students along the way, I feel that being on the School Board is the place to do it.”
It is easy to take for granted the outstanding leadership, vision and oversight provided by the Burnet CISD Board of Trustees. As a team, they quietly spend countless hours doing their work on behalf of the staff and students of Burnet CISD. I have a front row seat of watching them work, and having worked with other boards in other districts, I want our community to know how lucky we are to have these men and women serving as school trustees. For this reason, the Burnet CISD Board of Trustees is being nominated for the 2018 Texas Association of School Administrators School Board of the Year Award; a well-deserved honor.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and is a time to celebrate the important role that communities play in protecting children. Everyone’s participation is critical. Focusing on ways to build and promote the protective factors, in every interaction with children and families, is the best thing our community can do to prevent child maltreatment and promote optimal child development. We are lucky in Burnet to have the Hill Country Children’s Advocacy Center (HCCAC) as a resource to help in preventing child abuse and supporting families that have been victimized by child abuse. To learn more about the HCCAC please go to www.hccac.org.
Finally, this past weekend I completed the nine-month Thompson Executive Leadership Institute Superintendent Academy. The scholarship I received to attend the Academy paid for all academic costs including a field trip to attend leadership development sessions at Columbia University and visits to several New York City schools. During the Academy, I regularly met other superintendents, attended an educational visioning conference and throughout the process was challenged to look at old problems in new ways. It was an outstanding professional development opportunity that has helped me to be a better leader. I appreciate the support from the Board of Trustees to attend the Academy each month, and I look forward to applying what I have learned in the years to come.
March 21, 2018
For the first time in the District’s history, Burnet CISD will be sending property taxes generated in Burnet CISD to the state as part of the “Robin Hood” school finance plan. The District is projecting that this recapture payment will be $350,000 for the 2018-2019 school year. These are funds that will not be available to support innovative programs and initiatives, teacher pay raises or school safety initiatives in Burnet CISD, but will instead be redistributed to other Texas school districts.
Burnet CISD is exploring an upcoming plan to generate additional revenue for the District that won’t be subject to “Robin Hood” while also lowering taxpayers' overall tax rate – it's called a Tax Rate Swap & Drop.
Texas school districts’ tax rates are broken up into two separate rates – an Interest and Sinking (I&S) rate that funds the payment of debt from bonds that are used to build and maintain school buildings, and Maintenance and Operations (M&O) rate that funds everything else including programming, teacher salaries, and utilities. The M&O rate is currently capped at $1.04 per $100 property valuation, but can be raised with the community's approval. This is done through a Tax Ratification Election.
If the community passes a Tax Ratification Election, Burnet CISD could raise the M&O rate by $0.02, but would also be in position to lower the I&S rate by $0.03 due to higher valuations and fiscally responsible refinancing over the years. This would lower the overall tax rate from $1.28 to $1.27, while providing Burnet CISD with $545,000 in additional operating revenue that could not be recaptured by the state though “Robin Hood”. That's more money for your schools while lowering your overall tax rate.
It's a Tax Rate Swap & Drop and you’ll be hearing more in the upcoming months about our budget plans to keep more money in Burnet CISD for the benefit of our students and our community.
February 28, 2018
Any time there is news of a school tragedy, I know it heightens everyone’s concern about the safety of our children while in our schools. I want to reassure you that the safety and security of staff and students has been and will always be the top priority at Burnet CISD.
BCISD has several protocols in place for drills including fire, tornado, bomb threat, lockdowns, and active shooter. We have long been prepared for a school-wide lockdown and active shooter situation. The administrative staff was last trained in active shooter response in the summer of 2017. We work closely with the Burnet and Bertram Police Departments to develop our Emergency Operations Plan, as outlined by the Texas School Safety Center. In addition, we meet with our first responders every year to discuss emergency situations and make adjustments to our plans.
We also have taken thorough measures on campuses to ensure the physical safety and security of staff and students. In addition to routine drills, we have two School Resource Officers located at Burnet campuses and the routine presence of a Bertram Police Officer at Bertram Elementary. Each campus uses the Raptor Visitor Management System that requires all visitors to check-in at the campus office and undergo a screening before entering the building.
All campuses have secure entry ways, and exterior fencing has been added to campuses with multiple buildings. With the new proximity card access control system, exterior doors on all campuses can be locked and unlocked immediately and remotely in the event of emergency. All secondary campuses currently have security camera systems and elementary campuses are in the process of being equipped with security cameras. The security cameras in the District can be viewed remotely by police officers from their patrol vehicles during emergency situations. In addition, all classrooms have telephones to facilitate routine and emergency communication and finally, every campus is equipped with a radio with a panic button that when activated opens a channel directly to the Burnet County dispatch.
One of our greatest challenges during a school emergency is how to manage traffic flow and incoming phone calls from concerned parents and others. Traffic jams and jammed phone lines prevent emergency responders from providing emergency services in a timely manner. Because of this, Hill Country Fellowship (200 Houston Clinton Drive) has been selected as our Parent Information-Reunification Center. In the event of an emergency involving a BCISD campus, please do not come to the school, but go directly to the gymnasium at the south east corner door (facing 281) of Hill Country Fellowship where BCISD staff will provide you with information on how to reconnect with your child. Any time there is an emergency situation, the District will communicate instructions and status via the District’s Facebook page, webpage and School Messenger.
To create an inclusive and safe environment for staff and students all of our campuses have implemented the Start with Hello program. In addition, the District is partnering with Sandy Hook Promise to be the first school district in Texas to implement the Say Something Anonymous Reporting system that allows students and parents to make anonymous reports via an app, telephone or web page. All reports are triaged by a 24/7 crisis call center. We all have a responsibility to say something if we see something or know something.
Finally, this is a good reminder of the importance of our safety procedures and check-in and screening process for all campus visitors. All campus visitors should use only front entrances when visiting our schools.
My commitment to you is that we will continue, as always, to have discussion about how to make our campuses as safe as possible. Crafting the future starts with making sure our students and staff are safe and we all play a role in making that a reality.
February 21, 2018
Several years ago a meeting was held at the Michael J. Smith Memorial Student Union at Portland State. The speaker began his presentation by asking if anyone knew who Michael J. Smith was, and no one in the audience knew who he was or why the student union was named after him. The speaker then shared the story about Smith leading Portland State College’s GE College Bowl team to victory in 1965 by going undefeated during the academic competition. This accomplishment greatly enhanced the reputation of the previously lowly Portland State College. Even though he suffered from cystic fibrosis and was frequently hospitalized during the nine months of preparation for the College Bowl, Smith appeared in all 5 matches and sadly died three years after winning the championship.
One of the attendees at the meeting commented what a great story that was and asked how the speaker knew about it. The speaker shared that there is a plaque at the front of the building that tells the story of Michael J. Smith. He then shared that the life lesson from this story is, “Make sure you read the plaque.” We all need to do that more in life so that we know the stories of the people and places that make up our community. There are three things we are doing as a District to make sure people have access to the stories of Burnet CISD.
There are four perpetual plaques at Burnet High School as part of the Hall of Honor display so that we will remember the names and the stories of those that came before us. Just this past Saturday, the District honored the fifth group of inductees to the Burnet CISD Hall of Honor at the annual Chamber Banquet. It was a special evening honoring people that make up the fabric of Burnet CISD and the Burnet community. The honorees are:
Distinguished Former School Board Member- Camm Lary, Jr.
Distinguished Former Athlete- Mitzi Williams Lancaster
Distinguished Burnet High School Graduate- Dennis Hoover
Distinguished Former Employee- Mary Ann Gurno
In addition to the perpetual plaques, a brief story on every honoree is posted on the District’s web site at www.burnetcisd.net
Also posted on the District’s website are images of all of the building dedication plaques for Burnet CISD. Building dedication plaques provide a permanent way to honor significant people and organizations that played a role in the construction of a building. These lasting tributes also help to tell the history of a building and school district.
Finally, the District is working on a project to digitize as many of the Burnet High School and Bertram High School yearbooks as possible. The goal is to have a searchable PDF for each year so that people can have access to the people, events and memories from our past. I look forward to sharing more about this project as it comes closer to completion.
In closing I want to invite our community to have lunch at the Community Center while learning more about Burnet CISD and the City of Burnet during the State of the Community Address. It is being held on Wednesday, March 7. The doors open at 11:30 a.m. so that attendees can visit tables representing the city and school district. Lunch will be served beginning at 11:45 a.m. and the program will begin at 12 noon. The lunch is always delicious, and once again the dessert is being provided by the Burnet High School Culinary Arts Program. Mayor Bromley and I will share with the audience the state of the community from each of our perspectives. The event is free of charge and citizens are encouraged to attend. No RSVP is necessary.