New Year at MISD: Message from the Superintendent

New Year at MISD: Message from the Superintendent

A message from Midland Independent School District Superintendent, Dr. Ryder Warren, on the upcoming school year.
A message from Midland Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Ryder Warren:

I hope everyone had a wonderful summer, and I am very proud to let you know that the MISD faculty and staff – over 3,100 strong – are ready to get our students back and begin what will be a fantastic school year. We’ve had two of the most positive weeks of professional development for both our professional staff members and our support staff, and everyone is excited to get the kids back on Wednesday.

Just to make everyone aware, we ended the school year in May right at 23,000 kids. Our pre-registration numbers have us now at 23,895, so parents – especially at our elementary schools – please get ready for some adjustments. We’ve had to do this for the last five years, and I just need everyone to be aware.

I put out this article each year that goes into more detail for our parents, community members, and taxpayers in relation to the MISD budget. However, before I get to this year’s budget, I want to discuss a few very important issues facing the district to let everyone know, especially our parents and caregivers, that MISD will need your help and support to meet these challenges.

We are going to be targeting two very important challenges in relation to MISD, that also that affect all of Midland. As school preparations continue, parents, caregivers, and students will receive messages from all of our high school principals. The leaders of Midland High School, Lee High School, Coleman High School, and Early College High School at Midland College will be sending out messages announcing these two very important initiatives.

First, MISD is totally buying into Mayor Morales’ and our City Council’s vision of a clean Midland. We will be initiating versions of “Not in My Town,” starting with each of our senior high school campuses. Unfortunately during the school year, our high schools produce much of the trash that blows around town. Many of our kids do a pretty good job of taking care of business in this respect, but we have some students, even some of our older students – juniors and seniors – who have never really figured out what trash cans are used for. We are going to target our high schools when the students arrive with their breakfast trash and during lunch when we have way too much trash in our parking lots. We are going to press the kids to clean up after themselves.

Second, we are going to make an overt effort to make our kids understand what safe driving habits look like. As more than 6,000 high school students (many who are driving) return to school, we are going to preach good driving habits. We’ve had too many wrecks in the past and/or very near misses, so we want to start at the beginning of the year to target these behaviors.

To help us with these challenges, the Midland Police Department will be partnering with our MISD PD and our campus leadership to cover our campuses. Students will see more trash barrels placed in the parking lots, and if needed, they will be “reminded” by our policemen and school staff as to the purpose of those trash barrels. I would really ask our parents and caregivers to also reinforce these two concepts with their children as well. If we work together on this, it will not take very long to change these behaviors.

One other issue in which I need all parents and caregivers to assist is with our campus attendance rates. The one thing that is going to be apparent to all stakeholders this year is that MISD is going to raise the academic bar for all campuses. For the kids to be successful, they must have regular attendance. Our attendance, across the board, has to improve in MISD. The state average for attendance over the last several years has approached 96%. We only have six out of thirty-five campuses that are at or above the state average.

Every family, every campus, and every school district in the country deals with sickness. We do not want any students coming to school who are too sick, but the habitual absences must stop. We are setting high attendance goals (over the state rate) for every campus, and it is up to us as caregivers to make sure our kids are attending their schools regularly and have every tool in place to be successful.

Now for our budget this year – we will be asking the Midland ISD Board of Trustees to give final approval of the 2014-15 district budget Monday, August 25, and then we will ask the Board to adopt the tax rate to support this budget on Monday, September 8.

In relation to the district’s tax rate, many Texas school districts have two rates – the Maintenance and Operations Rate (M&O) and the Interest and Sinking Rate (I&S). The M&O rate pays for almost all district expenditures – the largest expenditure being salaries and benefits for our staff members. The I&S rate pays for the debt of a school district after bonds are sold. For this last school year, the MISD total tax rate was $1.13005 ($1.04005 for M&O and $0.09 for I&S). Now that we have sold all bonds from the November 2012 election, the recommendation for this year’s tax rate will be $1.14005 ($1.04005 for M&O and $0.10 for I&S), which is a one cent increase.

One other issue to report on the tax rate – the I&S rate of $0.10 appears to be the maximum amount we will have to go to in relation to the sale of $163 million for our elementary building program, and that rate is three cents less than was discussed during the election process, mainly because of the rise in taxable values.

The steps we took to construct this year’s district budget were very interesting to say the least. In Midland, we have seen a true shift take place within the school funding system that has both positively and negatively impacted our financial position. As I’ve reported to everyone in the past, MISD (and all other Texas public school districts) has been under a school funding system labeled as “Targeted Revenue.” This was a system that capped revenue for districts after the 2005 Legislative session, and this has been the mechanism that has funded MISD until the 2013-14 school year.

“Targeted Revenue” locked all school districts into a funding rate, based on 2006 taxable values, and assigned that rate to school districts, and it has not changed in the last seven years. While every other taxing entity was able to gain revenue from taxable value growth, this has not been the case for Texas school districts – we have had our funding capped continuously using 2006 values. In Midland, this meant the difference between $5 billion (2006) and $14 billion (2012).

As our legislators moved into the previous Legislative session in 2011, most knew that Targeted Revenue had not funded school districts appropriately, so the decisions they made back then began the process to return all Texas districts back to what we call “Formula Funding.” Formula Funding more accurately funds public schools, because it gives us credit for specific student needs and also the numbers of students we have in our programs. It also gives school districts credit for local taxable values, so MISD has seen an increase in revenue.

On the flip-side of that, we are now in year two in regards to our status as a “Chapter 41” school district. There are two chapters in the Texas Education Code that deal with school finance – Chapter 41 and Chapter 42. MISD is one of approximately 375 other Texas districts that fall under Chapter 41, which are nicknamed the “Robin Hood” districts. This means we are considered property wealthy by the state.

If a school district’s wealth per student exceeds $319,500, which ours does (MISD = $693,208), the district is considered to have too much revenue and must equalize its wealth with other Texas school districts. According to the state’s funding equations, we are estimating our payment back to the state to be over $33 million this year, so most of the revenue we were able to gain from the system shift, we are now losing to the Robin Hood provision in the law. This amount is listed below in the TEA accounting group – “Contract Instructional Services.”

So all Midland stakeholders will know where and on what we will spend the funds this year to support our educational programs, I will break down our expenditures into the different spending functions in which we organize our budget. There are nineteen different numbered functions in which TEA mandates we code our budget expenditures.

The functions are as follows: Function 11 = Instructional, Function 12 = Media Resources, Function 13 = Staff Development, Function 21 = School Leadership, Function 23 = Campus Leadership, Function 31 = Guidance and Counseling, Function 32 = Social Services, Function 33 = Health Services, Function 34 = Transportation Services, Function 35 = Food Service, Function 36 = Co-Curricular Activities, Function 41 = Administration, Function 51 = Maintenance and Operations, Function 52 = Security Services, Function 53 = Data Processing, Function 61 = Community Services, Function 71 = Debt Service, Function 91 = Contract Instructional Services, and Function 93 = Shared Service Arrangement.

For the 2014-15 school year, the MISD budget will be recommended to include the following expenditures:


· Instructional Expenditures: $108,376,318
· Media Resources: $2,325,323
· Staff Development: $5,795,219
· Instructional Leadership: $3,019,128
· Campus Leadership: $11,740,437
· Guidance and Counseling: $5,992,101
· Social Services: $242,776
· Health Services: $2,239,727
· Transportation Services: $6,885,596
· Food Service: $10,802,829
· Co-Curricular Activities: $4,388,217
· Administration: $6,120,944
· Maintenance and Operations: $18,692,191
· Security Services: $1,378,465
· Data Processing: $4,742,457
· Community Services: $630,784
· Debt Service: $18,817,302
· Contract Instructional Services: $33,031,333
· Shared Service Arrangement: $130,000

· Total Estimated Expenditures: $245,423,147


Everyone worked very hard to be able to put this budget before our board members, and I truly appreciate their efforts. As I said, we are about to start a phenomenal school year, and we cannot wait to get the kids back. If anyone has questions about any issue in this article (or about anything else), please do not hesitate to contact me at ryder.warren@midlandisd.net. Thank you for all of the support you give our children and our schools.

Ryder Warren, Superintendent
Midland Independent School District
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