Welcome to Burnet CISD. Located in the Hill Country, Burnet CISD is spread out over 700 square miles and serves 3,200 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.
To find out more about Keith McBurnett, click HERE.
February 10, 2020
BURNET CISD BOARD CALLS MAY 2020 BOND ELECTION
Voter Feedback Informed the Composition of the May 2020 Bond Election
Keith McBurnett, Superintendentkmcburnett@burnetcisd.net
Burnet, TX – February 10, 2020 - The Burnet Consolidated Independent School District Board of Trustees voted unanimously to call for a bond election on May 2, 2020. The election includes two propositions.
Proposition A totals $23,900,000 and focuses on projects related to student growth, learning environments, infrastructure, and safety and security. Based on feedback from voters, Proposition A does not contain athletic projects, technology projects, painting projects, or ceiling tile replacement projects.
“43% of Proposition A is focused on addressing student enrollment growth in Burnet CISD,” said Superintendent Keith McBurnett. “Bertram Elementary has a current capacity of 450 students. Although the July demographic study projected enrollment to reach 400 students by the year 2022, Bertram has already grown from 371 students to 404 students just during the 2019-2020 school year. By funding a classroom addition at Bertram Elementary now, the District will avoid having to add portable buildings to the campus, and because of rising construction costs due to inflation, building now will save the District money in the long run.”
In separate, but related action, the Board also approved filing an application for minimum class size exception due to one first grade classroom at Bertram Elementary exceeding the state-mandated 22:1 student-to-teacher ratio by one student. “The need for a class size waiver at Bertram Elementary is one more indication that student enrollment growth is an issue the District is dealing with today. The District could hire an additional teacher, but there is currently not an open classroom at Bertram Elementary for an additional first grade classroom,” said McBurnett.
Proposition B totals $5,760,000 and focuses on the construction of a high school weight room with baseball and girls soccer locker rooms, and the turfing of the Burnet Middle School athletic field with a 6-lane track.
“Some stakeholders have indicated that athletic projects should not be included in the bond program, but there have been just as many stakeholders that have expressed the importance of having athletic projects included in the bond program,” said McBurnett. “The Board is committed to listening to stakeholders, and providing the voters choice based on that feedback. To address both points of view, the May 2020 Bond will have a separate Proposition B that contains athletic projects. This means that voters will have the opportunity to vote for or against Proposition A and for or against Proposition B separately and independently from each other. “
Even with the passage of the May 2020 Bond Election, the Administration will recommend to the Board of Trustees in August to approve a tax rate decrease of .5 cents for the 2020-2021 school year. This will represent the fifth year in a row the Board of Trustees has approved lowering the tax rate, and the projected $1.18 tax rate is over 8 cents lower than the tax rate prior to the 2014 Bond Program. In addition, the Board will be paying off targeted existing debt early in the 2020-2021 school year.
“After the failed 2019 Bond Election, the Board of Trustees sought feedback from voters and listened carefully to that feedback. The composition of the May 2020 Bond Program honors the feedback from voters by removing projects to reduce the overall size of the bond program, paying off existing debt early, lowering the tax rate, and giving voters a separate choice concerning athletic projects,” said McBurnett.
February 5, 2020
Two hundred thirty years ago the first U.S. census was held. The U.S. Constitution mandates that everyone in the country be counted every 10 years. The results of the census are used to reapportion the House of Representatives, determining how many seats each state gets. By accurately accounting for the growing population in Texas, that means more representation for Texas in Congress.
In addition, the distribution of more than $675 billion in federal funds, grants, and support to states, counties, and communities are based on census data. That money is spent on schools, hospitals, roads, public works, and other vital programs. By completing the census, you are helping Burnet County and Burnet CISD receive additional funding during the next ten years.
Beginning March 12, letters will go out to all residences letting individuals know how they can complete the census online or by phone. If a person has not completed the census by April 3, a paper questionnaire will be mailed to the residence.
The security of census systems is a top priority, and census information technology systems are designed to defend against and contain cyberthreats. Individual privacy is also protected. It’s against the law for the Census Bureau to publicly release your responses in any way that could identify you or your household. By law, your responses cannot be used against you and can only be used to produce statistics. I will be completing the census questionnaire as soon as I receive my letter, and I encourage all Burnet County residents to do the same.
It is hard to believe it has been seven years since its inception, but Join the Journey will hold its 7th Annual Safe and Drug Free Wellness Fair tomorrow on Thursday, February 6 from 5:00-6:30 p.m. at the Burnet Middle School Auxiliary Gym (1401 North Main). The fair will include a FREE pizza meal along with health screenings, drug/alcohol education, a Genius Bar featuring Chromebooks, an inflatable obstacle course, a texting and driving simulator, and great door prizes. I hope you will join us for this fun and educational event designed for the whole family.
I hope you will also consider attending the Burnet Chamber of Commerce annual banquet held this Saturday, February 8. Along with the Chamber recognizing members of the community, the District will recognize the 2020 Hall of Honor Honorees. Since 2014, the Burnet Consolidated ISD Hall of Honor has recognized outstanding individuals that through their contributions will forever be linked to Burnet CISD. Each year we recognize four categories of people: Distinguished Former Board Member, Distinguished Former Athlete, Distinguished Former Employee, and Distinguished BHS Graduate.
Located at the foyer of Burnet High School are four 60-year perpetual plaques each representing one of the categories. The name of each inductee is forever engraved on one of the plaques, and during the year of induction a picture of the honoree hangs in the foyer. To date, we have honored 24 individuals as part of the Hall of Honor, and we look forward to inducting 4 more honorees on Saturday, along with recognizing the Burnet CISD Educator of the Year.
January 15, 2020
On September 12, 1962 President Kennedy delivered the memorable “Moon Speech” in which he set forth his vision for putting a man on the moon. During his speech he challenged to nation to, "go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too." There is no doubt that President Kennedy’s vision and goal for the space program was a driving force behind Neil Armstrong taking that first step on the moon on July 20, 1969. What is truly remarkable to me is that he established a vision for the future in 1962 in which technology did not exist at the time to make it a reality. His stated vision was the starting point for the creation of hundreds of new technologies. That’s how important vision can be.
The month of January is School Board Recognition Month and the theme this year is Launching the Next Generation. Kennedy’s vision was critical to the success of the Apollo Program, and the Burnet CISD Board of Trustees’ vision for the District is critical to its success. We are fortunate to have school board members that provide outstanding leadership and vision for Burnet CISD. Our shared vision is Burnet Consolidated ISD will craft an inspiring future for each student that embodies spirit, pride, and honor. The challenge for us is similar to what existed in 1962 in that each student’s future is unique to them, and we have to prepare students for that future without fully knowing what jobs will even be needed in the future.
While educating children may not be rocket science, it is a complex, demanding responsibility: ensuring that schools are available, qualified teachers are in place, buildings are safe, and resources are provided. It’s a responsibility that our board members generously accept. They commit to read reports, learn the laws, understand the community’s needs, set thoughtful goals, and wisely handle the District’s financial resources.
The task of educating more than 3,200 students can seem overwhelming. The idea of 3,200 young minds relying on us to provide what they will need to succeed in their ever-unfolding future can feel insurmountable. But when we were children, the adults in our world provided for us, and now it is our turn to provide for today’s students.
But it isn’t just a simple commitment. Serving as a board member means going through an election and making difficult decisions for the District, its employees, and its children. It means being available to hear from concerned parents in the grocery store, at the game, or over the backyard fence. It means committing to the time it takes to do the job right. And in Texas there is no pay for school board members, and there are required training requirements, creating further demands on their time. In short, why would anyone volunteer for this role?
Fortunately, in our community, caring adults have signed on for the responsibility and hard work of making our schools the best they can be. They immerse themselves in learning what they need to know to make good decisions that will provide for students, from the very youngest to the graduating senior. Trustees are public servants who generously work to benefit the most vulnerable members of each community.
So please join me in thanking the Burnet CISD Board of Trustees comprised of President Andy Feild, Vice President Angela Moore, Secretary Earl Foster and Trustees Robby Robertson, Suzanne Brown, Mark Kincaid and Ross Behrens. Take a moment to recognize these local trustees, and say thank you for the work the Burnet CISD School Board members are doing on your behalf.
December 11, 2019
I am a self-admitted Abraham Lincoln buff having read multiple biographies about him, along with nonfiction works about his leadership and the era in which he lived. Lincoln was known for opening the White House to citizens so that they could share with him their issues and concerns. Lincoln referred to this as his, “public opinion bath.”
In response to the failed 2019 Bond Proposition, the District invited those people that voted in the election to share why they voted for or against the bond election. 291 people responded to the survey, which was 12% of surveys distributed. The Board of Trustees and administration have reviewed the results of the survey including every comment provided. The survey served as a “public opinion bath,” and the results are helping to inform a future, revised bond program. Especially in light of the fact that actual enrollment numbers indicate Bertram Elementary could exceed its capacity as early as 2022, instead of the original projection of 2025, the District will need to consider calling a bond election sooner than later. I look forward to sharing specific details of a revised bond program as they are finalized.
In the meantime, I want to address some of the questions and comments that I read as I reviewed the survey results.
Property tax rate: 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. This is evidenced by the Board of Trustees voting 4 years in a row to lower the tax rate, positioning Burnet CISD to have the second lowest tax rate among surrounding school districts. In discussions of future years’ budget projections, the intention is to continue to lower the rate again in 2020.
Debt load: The District is committed to managing its level of debt. This is evidenced by Burnet CISD having the second lowest debt-to-student ratio of surrounding Districts. Since 2012, the District has realized over $3.5 million in interest cost savings through refinancing previous bonds and paying previous bonds off early. The District is planning on paying off early an additional $1.3 million in debt in 2020. In no way has the refinancing of bonds or paying off debt early extended the length of any debt obligations.
Appraised values: Burnet CISD does not determine property values, but it is important to understand that State law requires the Burnet Central Appraisal District to appraise properties at least at 95% percent of market value; if they do not, the appraisal district fails the Comptroller‘s ratio study and the State reduces funding to local schools. The State Comptroller’s ratio study compares sales prices with appraised values set by the county appraisal district. If Burnet County does not pass the Comptroller’s ratio study, Burnet CISD and Marble Falls ISD could both lose millions of dollars in state funding.
Academic outcomes: Burnet CISD’s current TEA academic accountability rating is a letter grade “B.” Principals from each campus presented plans to the School Board on Monday, October 21 on how campuses are addressing student achievement for all students.
Teacher compensation: Bond funds cannot be used for payroll expenses, but Burnet CISD is proud to lead area school districts in teacher pay and in benefits by using its budgeted operating funds. Burnet CISD is ranked number one in teacher pay among area districts.
Fiscal management: Burnet CISD’s current TEA financial accountability rating is “Superior” or letter grade “A,” which is the highest rating possible.
Facility projects: There were no projects in the 2019 Bond Program being repeated or replicated from the 2014 Bond Program. As an example, the roof of the main building at RJ Richey Elementary received an elastomeric coating as part of the 2014 Bond Program. The RJ Richey gym roof did not receive the coating in 2014, because there was no need at the time for that work to be done. Five years later, there is evidence that the coating is needed at the gym area, and it was included as part of the 2019 Bond Program. So, roof work at RJ Richey was listed on the 2019 Bond Program, but it was addressing different areas than when it was listed on the 2014 Bond Program.
School finance options: A Bond Election does not indicate that a District is not living within its means. The school finance system that the State uses to distribute funds was not designed to support new construction or large renovations. This is evidenced by the fact that 86% of all school districts in the State have current bond debt.
The Board of Trustees and administration appreciate the feedback provided by community members on both sides of the issues. We are committed to listening and learning, while we continue to plan for Burnet CISD 5-10 years into the future.
Next week we wrap up the first semester of the school year and head into Christmas break, which is scheduled for December 23-January 6. We look forward to welcoming students back to school for the second semester on Tuesday, January 7, 2020. On behalf of the staff, students, Board of Trustees and administration, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
November 21, 2019
As you know, the 2019 Bond Proposal was not approved by voters on November 5th. As I shared on election night, we are committed to studying the results of the election, listening to our stakeholders, and bringing forward in the future a revised bond proposition based on the feedback we receive. We are in the process of publishing a short survey we hope voters will use to provide the District feedback about the failed school bond proposal.
With that said, the needs identified in the 2019 Bond still exist. For example, Bertram Elementary has 45 more students today than projected through our demographic study. That means that Bertram Elementary is on-track to exceed its capacity even sooner than the original target of 2025. The District’s operating budget cannot accommodate the cost of adding a new classroom wing at Bertram Elementary to increase its capacity.
The other reality to be considered is that construction costs are going up every year, and in some cases, every month. As an example, when the Board approved prevailing wages as part of the 2014 Bond program, the Texas Workforce Commission wage survey for the Rural Capitol Area listed $9.78 as the average hourly rate for a construction laborer. The most recent data from the Texas Workforce Commission is from 2018, and the average hourly rate for a construction laborer for the Rural Capitol Area has increased by 52% to $14.87.
The District is in a very strong financial position which has allowed the Board to approve to lower the tax rate the past four years in a row, while also maintaining a “rainy day” fund balance of three months of operating costs. In addition, in planning for becoming a recapture district in the next five years (sending money back to the state), Burnet CISD has set aside $1 million so that the District can address any future deficits caused by recapture.
Proactive planning has made it possible for Burnet CISD to earn a Superior Rating in the state’s financial accountability system, lead area districts in compensation and benefits for staff, while also having the second lowest tax rate and the second lowest student to debt ratio among area districts. We are committed to being good stewards of our facilities and our tax dollars. One way to do that is by borrowing money for capital projects when the environment is optimal to do so. Municipal interest rates are currently at a record 20 year low, making large projects more affordable.
In the midst of talking bonds and finances, I would like to change directions and recognize three students that exemplify Spirit, Pride and Honor, and the excellence in Burnet CISD. As you have probably already heard, Hudson Bennet is a Regional Cross Country Champion. Jazlyn Marvin and Mitchel Howard were recently recognized by the Board of Trustees as National Merit Scholarship Program Commended Students. These accomplishments are significant, and it would be easy to think that Hudson is naturally fast, and Jazlyn and Mitchel are just smart, but I want you to know that these accomplishments don’t happen by accident. When I think about these three students, it is their work ethic and grit that made the difference in their performance, and it is those demonstrated characteristics that make me the most proud. Congratulations to all three of them!
On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the administration, I would like to wish our students, parents and community a Happy Thanksgiving. All campuses and district offices will be closed the week of November 25 – November 29. When classes resume on Monday, December 2, we will have three weeks of school before the end of the first semester and Christmas break, which is scheduled for December 23-January 6. We look forward to welcoming students back to school for the second semester on Tuesday, January 7, 2020.
To kick off the Christmas season, Burnet High School would like to invite the community to attend the 4th annual Tree Lighting Ceremony at the BHS courtyard amphitheater. On December 3, from 6:30-8:30 p.m., Burnet High School is inviting the community to put an ornament on the tree, hear some caroling, and drink some hot cocoa to help get the community in the Christmas spirit. I hope you will join us.
November 6, 2019
On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the administration, I would like to thank the Burnet CISD community members who invested themselves in the development of the bond proposition. We understood from the beginning that this bond election would be challenging because of the large number of voters that do not have a direct connection to Burnet CISD. Nevertheless, with the input from the Board of Trustees and the Community Advisory Committee we knew that this was an opportunity to address needed renovations and future growth while voters realized a 7.5 cent tax rate decrease. As a result, we believed the voters deserved a choice. After conducting dozens of informational meetings with the community, developing an informational website and providing information to voters, we still do not believe that we were able to effectively reach all of the voters.
A lot of people on both sides of this issue have worked very hard. We appreciate their interest in our schools. Tonight, the reality is that the needs identified through the facility assessment still exist, while the ability to pay for those needed renovations through the operating budget does not.
When 85% of the operating budget is accounted for through salaries, utilities, and transportation alone (not including campus or departmental budgets), that leaves the District little in discretionary funds to address major renovations or maintenance issues. For example, one roof replacement can cost over $1 million.
As some of the supporters of the bond have noted, the community will either pay for the needed renovations and classroom expansions now or later. With the impact of inflation, the cost later will be greater than the cost today. Hopefully, with additional information, the community will come together in support of a bond to improve our facilities for the benefit of our students and to address future growth. We are committed to studying the results of the election, listening to our stakeholders, and bringing forward a revised bond proposition in the future.
October 23, 2019
Next week all of Burnet CISD is celebrating Red Ribbon Week (often referred to as Green Ribbon Week in Burnet) in which the District and the community focus on the prevention of drug use within our community. One of the ways that we celebrate is by having students dress up in different types of themes like crazy sock day or spirit day. These are fun activities for our students with a serious purpose. I remember the hectic mornings in my home trying to get my boys dressed in their crazy socks, but I want to challenge our parents to use these theme days as natural conversation starters to talk to their children about the dangers of drug abuse, and to set clear rules for them about not using drugs.
The conversations don’t have to be long or complicated, and parents don’t have to be an expert in order to share information or ask questions. Some conversation starters for parents include:
• Talk to your kids about what the drug trends were when you were in high school. Make it personal, talk about friends or family members who used drugs.
• Ask your kids to tell you about a friend or someone they know who has experimented with drugs and the consequences they faced.
• Tell your kids what your family’s position is on alcohol and smoking pot.
• Ask your kids what they think is the biggest issue facing teens today. Ask how you can help them to better face this issue.
As many of you know, early voting began on Monday, October 21 and will last through Friday, November 1. Early voting times are from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. except on Thursdays when the times are extended to 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Please note there are 10 Constitutional Amendments to consider before reaching the Burnet CISD Bond Election item on the ballot. The Burnet CISD Bond Election item is on the second page of the ballot.
Did you know that classroom design influences levels of interaction, engagement, and collaboration? Through the 2019 Bond Program, Burnet CISD is proposing to refresh the aging furniture in approximately 150 classrooms with new, flexible, high-impact furniture.
The District has piloted this type of furniture in approximately 25 classrooms, and when surveyed, students reported that the new furniture was more comfortable, helped them to better use technology and helped them to better learn. The strategic drivers for the pilot furniture were a focus on mobility and flexibility, student centeredness and technology friendliness.
In addition to new furniture, Burnet CISD wants to implement a 1:1 technology initiative. Our staff has been visiting other 1:1 districts to learn best practices. At the high school level, that means purchasing a Chromebook for every student, and having high school students use the Chromebooks at home and at school. At the middle school and elementary levels, that means having a Chromebook available for every student in any given classroom. Our teachers are receiving the same devices this fall in preparation for the 1:1 initiative rollout in the fall of 2020. The staff Chromebooks are being paid for from the District’s operational budget. The estimated bond budget for the furniture and technology is $4.7 million. To find out more about the 2019 Bond, please go to www.burnetcisd.net.
October 9, 2019
After months of conducting a comprehensive facilities assessment, two Community Advisory Committee meetings, several months of Board deliberations, and over 25 informational meetings to date, voting begins on October 21 for the Burnet CISD 2019 Bond Proposition.
Early voting begins on Monday, October 21 and will last through Friday, November 1. Burnet County residents can early vote at the AgrilIfe Extension Auditorium (Former Burnet Elementary Cafeteria) or the Marble Falls Courthouse South Annex. Llano or Williamson County residents can find their voting locations at www.burnetcisd.net
and clicking on the “2019 Bond” tab. Early voting times are from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. except on Thursdays when the times are extended to 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Because this is a general election, the electronic ballot in Burnet County is two pages long, and will also include 10 Constitutional Amendments. The BCISD Bond Proposition is the last item on the ballot. I have been reminding voters that if they want their opinions heard on the bond proposition, then they have to make sure they scroll to the bottom of the ballot and cast a vote.
As you know by now, the Burnet CISD 2019 Bond Proposition is projected to address student growth accommodation, especially at Bertram Elementary; safety and security enhancements; efficiency enhancements; enhanced classroom learning environments; and useful life extension of aging facilities and infrastructure. A complete list of projects and comprehensive information about the bond can be found at www.burnetcisd.net.
All of the projects could be completed with a tax rate of $1.185, which is 7.5 cents lower than the 2018-2019 tax rate. If approved, the 2020 tax rate is projected to remain the same at $1.185.
Some voters have asked the question, “How can this be a no tax rate impact bond?” The answer is that there are two major factors allowing the District to decrease the tax rate even if the 2019 Bond Proposition is approved. Property values have been increasing significantly since 2014 (as a reminder, Burnet CISD has nothing to do with the appraisal of property values). At the same time, Burnet CISD is paying off existing debt (in some cases earlier than scheduled). By 2024 Burnet CISD will pay off the 2003 Bond that helped to build the high school. It is important to also recognize that Burnet CISD has been very conservative in taking on new debt, as evidenced by Burnet CISD having the second lowest student to debt ratio of surrounding school districts.
One of the challenges that Burnet CISD faces, like all school districts across the state, is that 85% of the District’s $30 million operating budget is committed to staff salaries, utilities, and transportation costs. When most of the operating budget is accounted for through these three areas alone (not including campus or departmental budgets), that leaves the District little in discretionary funds to address major renovations or maintenance issues, especially when considering that one roof replacement can cost over $1 million.
Even with these challenges, Burnet CISD has consistently operated with a balanced budget and received the “Superior” financial accountability rating from the state. In addition, the District’s tax rate and current debt-to-student ratio are the second lowest in the area compared to other districts. The District also has a healthy fund balance of over 90 days in operating funds that the Board has intentionally built over time as an emergency reserve.
I have appreciated the community’s interest in the bond program over the past few months. I hope as many people as possible will take advantage of opportunities to inform themselves on all of the issues on the upcoming ballot, and will take time to vote. Early voting is easy and convenient. Of course, some people like to vote on Election Day, and on Tuesday, November 5, the polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
September 25, 2019
In the past 5 years, Burnet CISD has implemented multiple initiatives to address school safety and security. Some examples include the installation of proximity card access systems at exterior doors throughout the district, the addition of School Resource Officers, the construction of secure entry ways, the deployment of additional security cameras, and the construction of fencing at campuses with multiple buildings.
The work of conducting safety audits at campuses is ongoing, and through our audits, we have identified several projects that are included in the 2019 Bond Program. They include: Installing proximity card access systems at all classroom doors. This would allow us to lock all classrooms doors at the push of a button in an emergency situation, much like we are able to do with exterior doors today. Also included is the construction of fencing at elementary playgrounds, a new fire alarm system at Quest High School, and a lighting detection system at the stadium. The estimated budget for this work is $1.9 million. To find out more about the 2019 Bond, please consider attending one of the upcoming information sessions listed below or go to www.burnetcisd.net
October 1 at 6:30 p.m. Community Bond Presentation
Central Office Board Room (208 East Brier in Burnet)
October 4 at 8:00 a.m. Coffee With Superintendent
Bertram Elementary Library (315 Main Street in Bertram)
October 17 at 8:00 a.m. Coffee With Superintendent
Parent Resource Center (202 East Brier in Burnet)
In Burnet CISD we want to hear your feedback, comments and suggestions on ways to improve our District. To facilitate receiving feedback, eight years ago, the District launched a Solution Seeking Feedback Form on the District’s website. Comments, suggestions, and proposed solutions on any education or school topic are welcome. All you have to do is complete the on-line form found on the Burnet CISD home page (select the Solution Seeking Feedback Form link found by clicking the District tab on the top left side of the homepage). Once the form is completed and submitted, it will be forwarded to the appropriate department or person, and you are guaranteed a response. Some of the best ideas have come directly from parents, community members and staff.
You will notice that the form not only has a space for sharing a question or concern, but just as important, there is a section to offer a possible solution for the District to consider. Burnet CISD is a great school district, but we can always be better. Your constructive feedback will help us accomplish that goal.
September 11, 2019
Homecoming Week is next week in Burnet CISD, and that means mums, pep rallies, parades, bonfire and football. It is also a time to welcome back our alumni. I hope that our alumni and community will join us in celebrating Homecoming by attending the Homecoming Parade on Thursday, September 19 at 6:30 p.m. on the square followed by the bonfire at 7:30 p.m. in the field just west of Burnet High School. On Friday, please join us for the pep rally at the BHS gymnasium beginning at 3:00 p.m. Of course you have to wrap up your Homecoming Week by coming out Friday evening and watching the Burnet Bulldogs take on the Manor Titans. Kickoff will be at 7:30 p.m.
Speaking of alumni, we are preparing to honor the seventh set of inductees to the Burnet CISD Hall of Honor, but we need your help. Nominations are being accepted for the Hall of Honor and can be submitted electronically by going to www.burnetcisd.net
and selecting the Hall of Honor link under the Community tab at the top of the homepage. In February, we will honor four individuals in the following categories: Distinguished Burnet High School Graduate, Distinguished Former Burnet High School Athlete, Distinguished Former School Board Member and Distinguished Former Employee. We are looking for nominations of individuals that have not only brought great honor to themselves, but they have also brought great honor to Burnet CISD.
The student enrollment in Burnet CISD is currently 3,212, which is approximately 20 more students than our enrollment this same time last year. The District’s enrollment has increased by 93 students since fall 2016. At the September 16 Board Meeting, the Board of Trustees will receive a detailed report from the District’s demographer that includes 10 year enrollment projections for the District and each campus. Under a moderate growth projection, Burnet CISD could add 354 students over the next 10 years. A high growth scenario could result in 615 new students in the next 10 years.
Utilizing TEA guidelines for student to teacher ratios in grades PK-4, and Burnet CISD guidelines for grade 5, Bertram Elementary has an estimated capacity of 450 students. Based on the demographic report, Bertram Elementary is projected to exceed an enrollment of 450 students by the year 2025. That is why the District is proposing as part of the bond program to add a new classroom building to increase the overall capacity of Bertram Elementary to 700 students. In addition to new classrooms, the District is also proposing to increase the parking lot and drive to accommodate the larger school population, which also means reconfiguring and refinishing the walking track. Finally, so that no student ever has to walk outside to move about the campus, the District is proposing adding hallways that connect all of the classroom buildings. The estimated budget for this work is $9,081,724 million. To find out more about the 2019 Bond, please go to www.burnetcisd.net.
Finally, I am fortunate to currently serve as the president of the Hill Country Community Foundation, and I am a proud Rotarian. The Foundation was originally begun as a Project of the Rotary Club of Burnet. More than 35 years later, the Rotary Club of Burnet is honored to have played a role in planting the seed for a Foundation, that to date, has provided scholarships to 3,656 students in the amount of $5.6 million. Every Burnet CISD graduating senior is eligible for a scholarship ranging from $700 to $4,000 to support any post high school education or training opportunity. Getting back to its roots, the Rotary Club of Burnet is hosting The Rotary Scholarship Night for Kids fundraiser on September 21 at Hidden River Ranch. The event was created to benefit and support the Hill Country Community Foundations’ mission by increasing the funds available for scholarships. If you would like to have a fun evening, and give to a great cause, please consider purchasing a ticket at www.thehccf.org.
August 28, 2019
We have had a wonderful start to the 2019-2020 school year, and all credit goes to our outstanding staff and students. As you know, in July our nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of the historic landing on the moon. Even before we had the technology or understanding of how to land on the moon, President Kennedy set forth the challenge and said, “It will not be one man going to the moon…it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.” That’s how I feel about our mission of crafting an inspiring future for students. It takes all of us from teachers to bus drivers, and administrators to custodians to ensure we are living our mission.
Not only does it take our staff, but we couldn’t accomplish many of our goals without the support of our outstanding volunteers. Our volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds. They may be members of a group that has adopted a school; grandparents of children in school; or individuals who want to give back to the community. Volunteers can read to students, tutor in a particular subject area, work in the library, or assist with special events. There is almost no end to the opportunities available to volunteer through the Volunteers In Public Schools (VIPS) program. The process to volunteer is as simple as completing a background check, and letting us know how you want to help out. A link to the volunteer application can be found at www.burnetcisd.net
under the Community tab.
This past Monday, the Board of Trustees held a Budget and Tax Rate Hearing, and later the same evening during the Regular August Board Meeting, approved the 2019-2020 budget. As part of the budget adoption process, the Board voted to lower the overall tax rate from $1.26 to $1.185 for a decrease of 7.5 cents. This is the fourth year in a row the Board of Trustees has voted to lower the tax rate. The Board of Trustees and administration are committed to having low tax rates while also planning for growth, and maintaining or exceeding the standards of the Texas Education Agency.
As you are aware, the Board called for a November 5 Bond Election for $33.1 million that include projects at every campus that target:
• Student growth accommodation, especially at Bertram Elementary
• Safety and security enhancements
• Efficiency enhancements
• Enhanced classroom learning environments
• Useful life extension of aging facilities and infrastructure
Based on current estimates, even with the passage of the 2019 Bond, voters will still recognize a 7.5 cent tax rate decrease, and no tax increase in 2020. This is because the 19.5 cent I&S tax rate is sufficient to service the 20 year life of this bond, and all other existing debt obligations.
The District is in the process of developing a Burnet CISD 2019 Bond informational website with project information, tax rate information, and frequently asked questions. The website should be up and running within the next couple of weeks, and will be able to be accessed at www.burnetcisd.net.
In addition, the District is developing a schedule of informational meetings for the 2019 Bond. One of the first opportunities to hear more about the 2019 Bond will be at Coffee with the Superintendent on September 17 at 8:00 a.m. at the Parent Resource Center located at 208 East Brier in Burnet. Please join me for additional information.
August 7, 2019
The theme for this school year is Climbing to New Heights: Adventure Awaits, and it is hard to believe that Monday, August 19 the 2019-2020 School Year begins. I have a senior who will be graduating in May 2020, and kindergarten students that begin school this year will graduate in May 2032. Try to wrap your mind around that!
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. In addition, we have tackled some significant projects this summer including painting all of the classrooms at Burnet Middle School, renovating selected campus restrooms, and replacing the cracking and failing asphalt at the walkways at Bulldog Stadium. The Board of Trustees has approved the expansion of the Shady Grove Elementary drive. The project is currently going through permitting, and we hope to break ground within the next two weeks. We are working with our contractor to complete the work in stages so that school operation is not impacted. Once completed, Shady Grove will have two dedicated lanes for car rider pickup, and one dedicated lane to access parking. The number of parking spaces is also being increased significantly.
On August 26 the Board of Trustees will adopt the 2019-2020 tax rate and budget. The Board is pleased to have proposed a 7.5 cent tax rate decrease for the 2019-2020 school year during its regular July meeting, and officially approve the reduced tax rate of $1.185 in a few weeks. This will represent the fourth consecutive year the Board has voted to lower the tax rate. Even with the lower tax rate, the District has been able to provide historic pay raises for staff, add an instructional coach at each campus, and add two additional instructional partners at each campus. These new positions are designed specifically to provide direct support to teachers and classrooms.
Besides budget and compensation planning, the major area of focus this summer has been on facility planning. On May 6, the Board of Trustees heard a comprehensive report of needs on each campus/facility, and provided their input about the proposed projects. Over the course of three additional meetings this summer, the Board received cost estimates for each project, and prioritized the projects for consideration. A Facilities Community Advisory Committee (FCAC) comprised of 26 community members met recently for two meetings to review the projects, ask clarifying questions and provide feedback about the projects. On August 12 the Board of Trustees will hear a report on the feedback from the FCAC, and consider approving an order calling for a November 5 bond election. I will be sharing more information with the community about the possible bond election after August 12, but I want to make it clear that a called bond election will still result in a 7.5 cent tax rate decrease.
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 as 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 has an 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 15 at 6:00 p.m. at the Burnet High School Gym for food and fellowship as the community is introduced to our band, 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 2019-2020 a great school year for our students!
June 17, 2019
The Burnet CISD Board of Trustees and Administration are proud to announce as part of the 2019-2020 compensation plan a 7% midpoint general pay increase for teachers and librarians and a 5% midpoint general pay increase for all other staff. The starting salary for a teacher in Burnet CISD will increase from $44,500 to $48,100 for the 2019-2020 school year. The total cost of the 2019-2020 compensation plan is over $1.3 million, and well exceeds the legislative requirement of HB 3 by over $400,000.
“We are thrilled to provide this level of compensation to staff, and these pay raises would not have been possible without the passage of HB 3 and outstanding planning on behalf of the Board of Trustees and Administration,” said Superintendent Keith McBurnett. “Our mission of crafting the future with our students to ensure they are college, career, and military ready is made possible by all of our staff, whether they work in a classroom, a kitchen, or on a bus.”
In addition, the Board has approved increasing the District’s contribution for health insurance to $385 a month and the dental insurance to match the high premium plan. This will allow the District to continue to provide to employee-only free health insurance, free dental insurance, free vision insurance, and free telehealth services. “The Board of Trustees has been committed for years to making sure that when staff receives a pay raise, it is not negated by increasing insurance premiums,” McBurnett said.
In planning for the future, the Administration has shared with the Board its intention to recommend for the 2020-2021 school year a starting teacher salary of $50,000, a 4% midpoint general pay increase for all current teachers and a 2% midpoint general pay increase for all other staff.
“Outstanding compensation is just one of the ways that we can demonstrate to our staff how much they are valued and appreciated,” said McBurnett. “A major focus of the District’s Strategic Plan is to recruit and retain outstanding teachers and staff. We believe offering market-leading compensation and benefits is a key element of that plan.”
In addition to market-leading compensation and benefits for staff, the Board has also approved additional staff positions to increase the level of support provided to classroom teachers. This includes the hiring of an instructional coach at each of our traditional campuses along with the addition of two instructional partners at each campus. The Board has also approved hiring an intervention counselor that can support mental health needs for students in crisis.
The District will finalize the budget adoption in August, and the Board of Trustees and Administration are pleased to be able to develop a budget with a strong focus on the people within the organization, while also reducing the District’s tax rate. The Administration is forecasting an 8 cent decrease in the overall Burnet CISD tax rate for the 2019-2020 school year.
“Outstanding financial management does not happen by accident. I want to thank our Board of Trustees for the countless hours they have spent in special meetings this spring, and to the Business and Human Resources staff that have worked behind the scenes to bring the compensation and budget plans forward,” said McBurnett. “Our entire staff is extremely talented and hard-working. Together, we are committed to making sure students achieve at the highest level possible while living our vision to craft an inspiring future for each student that embodies spirit, pride, and honor.”
May 15, 2019
The UIL Lone Star Cup is awarded annually to six high schools, one in each of the six UIL classifications (1A, 2A, 3A, 4A, 5A and 6A), based on their team performance in district and state championships. The winning schools in each classification receive the UIL Lone Star Cup trophy. In Burnet CISD we have established the Lone Star Cup criteria as one of the many ways in which we measure our success. Our expectation of ourselves is to be the very best at everything in which we compete. At the most recent standings for 4A districts, Burnet CISD is just outside the top 25. We still have work to do to crack the top 25 and continue our march up the standings, and the performance of our UIL academic teams this spring are going to help with our standings when UIL releases the next update at the end of May.
One team that is going to add to that point total is the Burnet High School State Championship UIL Academic Spelling and Vocabulary Team. By capturing the gold medal two weeks ago in Austin, the Spelling and Vocabulary Team showed that hard work and focus pays off. Congratulations to Coach Mike Walzel and his team comprised of Cecilia Navarro, Emerie Danson, Kade Schrader, and Mitchell Howard. In addition, I want to congratulate to Kade Schrader for placing 2nd individually and Emerie Danson for placing 5th individually. In addition to the Spelling and Vocabulary Team, at the May 20 Board Meeting, the District will be honoring a whole host of students that competed at state level competitions this spring. That means there will be standing room only at the meeting, and that is a great problem to have when it is because you are honoring so many students!
The District has been working on developing its budget since January and conducted its first budget workshop in March. The next budget workshop is scheduled for June 3. The most challenging aspect of the budget development process at this point is not having a finalized school finance bill approved. Without having a revenue projection from the state, it is challenging to finalize a budget. The other challenge is not knowing how much money we will be required to send back to the state as part of recapture. Under the current law and projections, we expect to send over $3 million back to the state in the 2019-2020 school year. Our hope is that the legislators can wrap up their work on school finance before the session ends on May 27 so that we will have real numbers to work with at our June 3 budget workshop. The good news is that because of strong fiscal planning, if the state did not provide any new money to Burnet CISD, we have the funds available to maintain our current level of staffing and programming, and at a minimum, provide all staff with a 2% midpoint general pay increase for the 2019-2020 school year. With that said, the Texas Legislature must do their job in fixing school finance.
Tomorrow, May 16 at 7:00 p.m., the HCCF will award $390,000 in scholarships to Burnet and Quest High School students. Since 1983 the HCCF has awarded over $5.5 million in scholarships to 3,656 Burnet CISD graduates. That is an incredible investment in our young people, and a commitment that you don’t find in other communities. If you want to see this community’s investment in our future at work, feel free to join us at Burnet High School tomorrow. It is a special evening.
Finally, looking ahead to the end of the school year, I wanted to make sure everyone is aware of the following dates:
May 23 Last Day of School; Early Dismissal; Quest High School Graduation, 7:00 p.m. at the BHS Auditorium
May 24 Burnet High School Graduation, 7:30 p.m. at Bulldog Field
May 1, 2019
As you know, through the District’s strategic planning process, Burnet CISD formalized its volunteer program this school year and attracted over 600 volunteers. We hope to build on our success next year by attracting more volunteers, earning a greater number of volunteer hours. Another way that we are going to accomplish the goal of building collaborative relationships that actively engages our district, families and communities is through the soon to be launched Burnet CISD Adopt-A-School program.
The mission of the Burnet CISD Adopt-A-School program is to create school and community partnerships that positively impact student achievement. Adopt-A-School is a partnership between our school district and our community, whereby businesses, churches, or other organizations agree to provide volunteers and/or goods, donations, and/or discounts to individual schools or to support all schools within the District. The degree of participation by the Adopters is as varied as the Adopters themselves. Some organizations are able to organize more volunteers or donate more items, but every organization can make a commitment to a school.
In turn, Adopters will be recognized by an invitation to an appreciation reception in April, being listed on the District's web site and receiving a sign to be displayed at their business or organization.
If your business or organization would like to adopt a school in Burnet CISD, it is as easy as completing a short survey letting us know of your interest. The survey link can be found on the homepage of the BCISD webpage.
Once a business or organization has expressed interest in adopting a school via the survey, then a campus representative will reach out to the business or organization. During this meeting, it will be determined if the adopter is a fit for the campus, and the business or organization will be asked to complete an application to formalize the relationship.
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 16 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 $5.2 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 16- It is a special evening.
April 17, 2019
Two weeks ago the Rotary Club of Burnet gave away $21,000 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. I see examples every day in which these nonprofits are supporting the students and families of Burnet CISD. 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.”
Another group of people who truly exemplify “Service Above Self” are the Burnet CISD Volunteers of the Year. Our VIPs or Volunteers In Public Schools make a difference by giving back to Burnet CISD. Please help me congratulate these outstanding volunteers:
Burnet High School Volunteer of the Year - Gloria Flores
Quest High School- Michael Barnard
Burnet Middle School- Craig Lindholm
Bertram Elementary- Afton Floyd
Shady Grove Elementary- Vicinta Stafford
RJ Richey Elementary-Kristina Bailey
Parent Resource Center- Nancy Cranfill
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. Burnet CISD is committed to creating a safe environment for students, and we are lucky in Burnet County 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, please join me in welcoming Rachel Jones and her family to Burnet CISD. Rachel is the District’s new Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction and her first official day was this past Monday. She is hitting the ground running by meeting with campus staffs to hear from them directly what support they need from the Department of Curriculum and Instruction to help all students be successful.
As a reminder, Rachel’s hire is just one part of a reorganization plan to provide greater direct support to campuses and teachers. The District has hired an Elementary Curriculum Coordinator to support elementary campuses and a Secondary Curriculum Coordinator to support secondary campuses, especially in the areas of curriculum revision, instructional resource adoption, professional development and formative assessments. To provide direct support to classroom teachers on a daily basis, the District is in the process of hiring an Elementary Instructional Coach and a Secondary Instructional Coach. This newly configured Department of Curriculum and Instruction is designed to support campus staff in continuing to improve teaching and learning and the District’s achievement as measured by the state accountability system. The Curriculum and Instruction Department should be finalized by May in order for the team to begin planning together this summer for the 2019-2020 school year.