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Raises, moving costs, renovations highlight PNGISD’s $51 million budget

The Port Neches-Groves Independent School District approved a $51 million 2020-21 Fiscal Year budget this week that include payroll costs, COVID-19 related expenses and new administration building renovations.

Payroll costs top out as the district’s most expensive budget at $39,940,908.

The total includes the addition of 12 positions and raises for all employees.

Teachers this year will receive a step raise with a guaranteed increase of one percent. All other employees will receive a 1.6 percent increase.

School Board President Scott Bartlett said the cost is relatively low after last year’s 7 percent increase.

“With it being the second year of the same state legislature, we knew coming into this year we were going to offer raises, but we kind of gave the big raises last year,” he said. “This year we gave teachers a light 1 percent raise or a step, whichever worked out best for their benefit.”

Bartlett said the board planned on offering a smaller raise this year.

“We have to look at maintaining these rates in the future and we don’t know what will happen with the legislature the next time they meet,” he said. “If they do cut some funding, then we are in a good position to support what we’ve already done.”

If possible, Bartlett said the district could give bigger raises every year.

“Our educators work hard, but fiscal responsibility is our job,” he said. “We try to keep it within our budget and what we anticipate coming in. We’re not looking to make money. We want to give all the money back to teachers, so every year we take it seriously. We try to give them the maximum amount we can every year because they are the hardest working people. It’s important to make sure they are getting paid well.”

The district’s second largest expenditure includes $853,850 in capital expenditures, which include $450,000 for administration remodel and $267,850 for technology.

The PNGISD administration is anticipating moving into the current Neches Federal Credit Union on Magnolia Avenue by May.

Bartlett said the cost goes into remodeling the current bank building into a usable school space.

“We already own the building,” he said. “The good news is because they’ve been in the building for over the two-year lease agreement we are now receiving rent from Neches.”

PNGISD approved a one-year lease agreement from NFCU for the period of June 1, 2020, to May 21, 2021, for $15,966.65 a month.

The extra $192,000 will help offset some of the construction costs.

Rounding out as the district’s third largest expenditure is the $708,000 COVID-19 budget. The total includes the purchase of the Ozone USA sanitizing system, teacher stipends for homebound instruction and maintenance supplies.

Superintendent Mike Gonzales said it was a necessary purchase.

“We put a large number in there,” he said. “We don’t know how much of it we will need, but the number, as large as it looks, it is what it is. You can’t put a price tag on the safety of students and staff.”

PNGISD’s $51,117,943 is down from last year’s budget of $52,384,113.

The decrease is due largely to one-time costs incurred in 2019-2020 for repairing damage from the TPC explosion.

The school board also approved the proposed tax rate at 1.34270 for a 0.00005 decrease.