New Laptops For High School, A Tax Overpayment Among Items Approved By SSISD Trustees Monday

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Sulphur Springs Independent School District Board of Trustees approved funding for lease of laptops to replace the aging units at high school, a tax overpayment refund, extension of the district’s depository contract, and English language arts and reading instructional materials.

Laptop lease

SSISD Superintendent Michael Lamb discusses with trustees during their regular April meeting options for new laptop leases for high school.

Approval was given for SSISD to enter into a three-year lease for 1,400 new laptops for Sulphur Springs High School. District technology staff have been evaluating options available and have narrowed the options to two different units, one that costs $495 per unit and another $405 per unit. They just learned of the second option and plan to evaluate the device to be sure it best meets the needs of SSHS students. Durability, functionality, amount of storage space, quality of unit and option to purchase accident protection are among the factors being used to determine which laptops to select, SSISD Superintendent Michael Lamb and Technology Coordinator Rodney White told trustees at their regular meeting Monday night.

Lamb asked trustees to approve the higher of the two rates to give the district staff time to fully evaluate the second option, which if it proves to meet the needs as well as the higher priced model would be the option staff would go with.

The first payment on the devices would have to come from this year’s budget, as the devices will need to be ordered in the next two weeks in order to get the order in and the laptops in and ready for student use by Sept. 1, the school staff explained.

Trustees approved the request for the laptop lease contract up $221,900, plus the addition of the accident protection, so that units the experience problems could simply be sent back for repairs or replacement. This should be helpful as broken screens seemed to be a more prevalent issue in the last few years, requiring funding for school officials to fix or replace.

Tax Overpayment

SSISD Tax Assessor/Collector Sandra Gibby presented for board approval, as required due to the amount, an overpayment of $136,257.68, the total refund owed on four separate accounts, to BEF Foods.

Essentially, Gibby explained, BEF Foods filed a rendition extension on March 23, 2018. The agent at Capital Appraisal Group Inc., the company the county appraisal district uses for all industrial appraisals,didn’t get it into the system. The local tax appraiser didn’t get it until November or December of 2018. The bill was sent and paid by BEF before the error was caught.

It’s not uncommon for the district or other taxing entities to issue tax refunds. For instance a property owner age 65 might pay a tax bill before a homestead exemption is factored in. That person might receive a refund. However, it is uncommon to have to issue a refund of that size. Thus, an action of the board is required. The amount to be paid to BEF is from four separate accounts.

Depository Contract

Trustees also gave approval to a resolution extending the depository contract for SSISD funds with City National Bank by another two years.

School districts are required to to solicit bids for bank contracts. Once approved, they then have the option of extending the contract by two years up to three times, for a potential of eight years continued service before the district is required to go through the selection process.

The district’s contract with City National Bank started on Sept. 1, 2013, and has been extended two times already. The school board Monday night voted to extend the contract for another two years, the last time the district is allowed to do so before new bids are solicited. The contact will extend the contract to Aug. 31, 2021.

Instructional materials

School officials approved purchase of instructional materials from Fountas & Pinnell Classroom-Fountas & Pinnell Library for fourth through sixth graders; as well as Teachers’ College Reading & Writing Project: Units of Study and Writing for sixth graders, and nits of Study, Reading and Writing for seventh and eighth graders. This will provide continuity in ELAR through sixth grade level and “put authentic literature in the classroom.” The purchases for middle school study, writing and reading will also serve as a means for SSMS ELAR classes to be structure more in line with elementary classes, for more individual and small group interventions where needed, SSISD Assistant Superintendent Kristin Monk and Director of Curriculum Lisa Robinson explained to trustees.

Author: Faith Huffman

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