Leanne Haynes, AISD Place 7

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To: haynes.aisd@gmail.com <haynes.aisd@gmail.com>
Sent: Sunday, May 28, 2023 at 05:42:43 PM CDT
Subject: Five questions
 
 
Ms. Haynes,
 
Since  there is a very confining two-minute time limit for speakers I am forced to send you an e-mail with my questions.
 
Here is my two major problems with the 4% raise.
1. As Dr. Reich stated at the May 18 meeting, we are already at the top of the chart [setting the standard concerning salaries]. By giving another 4% [for the fourth? year in a row]  you are NOT just staying competitive [as Ms. McMurrough stated], but actually causing ISD inflation. Think about it, you are already on top and setting the price even higher. If the only way you can get people to come and/or stay is to overpay over everyone else's price, there must be something else that is wrong, and I say fix that. If you remember the Young Men  for Arlington candidate forum back in April there was a rather robust conversation on that. I also have to question the "heart" of people that are only going where the top dollar is. For paying the top dollar, are we on top of all the ratings? NO, we are not. There are other districts that are paying less and rated higher [obtaining more from their employees]. [I am NOT trying to imply AISD is doing bad, certainly a whole lot better than say FWISD, but others are doing better with less dollars.]
 
2. ESSER funds are limited and not forever lasting. So you may think $8.6 million deficit for FY23-24 already accounting for ESSER and vacancy funds might be good, but when no more ESSER funds are available, you are talking an already vacancy adjusted $33 million deficit for future years. The raises accumulate. The ESSER funds expire. We are being set up for a disaster.
 
1. Do you see how a 4% raise is causing ISD inflation?
 
2. Do you believe there might be better solutions other than just giving a 4% raise?
 
Another thing discussed at the May 18 meeting, with no fanfare, was the debt service fund having a $10.6 million surplus. The debt service fund should basically have a cushion (for protection of soft tax collections) then basically aim for annual zero balances for debt service expenditures [The district should already have a good idea what the value of those expenses will be tor the year]. In my mind that is another 3-cent reduction that should be coming off the total tax rate.
 
3. Do you think the district should be investigating lowering the taxpayers' tax rate by looking at lowering the debt service piece?
 
The Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers make payments to the AISD for taking properties off the tax rolls for stadiums. I believe both pay a six-digit figure. In theory, how school funding works, the M&O total dollars are not affected by whether these properties are on the tax rolls or not, but the debt service piece certainly is. In fairness to the taxpayer these funds should be going to the debt service fund, not the general fund.
 
4. Do you believe that in fairness to the taxpayers, these stadium payoffs for taking properties off the tax rolls should be added to the debt service fund, helping to lower the total tax bill to taxpayers?
 
5. Do you believe two minutes is the correct time limit for AISD speakers?
 
Sincerely,

 

Did not respond.

 

 

 

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To: haynes.aisd@gmail.com <haynes.aisd@gmail.com>
Sent: Friday, May 19, 2023 at 09:46:26 AM CDT
Subject: Two Questions
 
Ms. Haynes,
 
The FY2023-24 Budget discussed at last night's board meeting has the taxpayers spending greater than $6.1 million on recapture/"Robin Hood".
 
Question 1:  Is this efficient use of taxpayers' dollars?
 
Question 2: What options are available to reduce that amount to $0?
 
Sincerely,
 
 
Did not respond.
 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Taxpayers' Dollars – please respond by March 2, 2023

Currently the AISD has the highest M&O rate of any ISD in Tarrant County. In February staff did a budget adjustment of close to $1 million to start planning for the paying recapture (“Robin Hood”). How fiscally responsible should the board be with taxpayers' dollars? How high of a priority should fiscal responsibility be? What are your suggestions to be more fiscally responsible?

Reviewing, adopting, and overseeing the budget of a school district as large as the AISD is no small task. This specific school board responsibility is an important one that I would approach with our taxpayers, teachers, and students in mind. Fiscal responsibility should always be a top priority when reviewing any budget, especially when the budget is composed of public funds. In an effort to be as fiscally responsible as possible, I would make sure to listen closely to committee recommendations regarding the budget at hand, I would speak up and ask questions to ensure that I have all the data necessary to make an informed budgetary decision, and I would commit to partnering with my fellow trustees to adopt a budget that is both fiscally responsible and beneficial to our staff and students in the AISD. 

 

2. Transgender – please respond by March 9, 2023

Which locker rooms/restrooms, etc., should transgender students be using? Should there be a District policy? Why or why not?

I believe that all students should be taken into account when discussing situations like these. Currently, the district makes special accommodations for transgender students to be allowed to use the single stall (also known as the “family”) restrooms. This approach seems to be working and I believe that it can continue to be an appropriate approach.  If the state sends down a policy on this topic to school districts, then the board has a responsibility to follow that mandated policy. Otherwise, the current district policies and procedures should be followed.

 

 

3. Teachers' Salaries – please respond by March 16, 2023

Is having the highest teachers' salaries in the north Texas area a good thing? Why or why not?

I am proud of the work that the AISD has done to increase teacher salaries within our district. The AISD is in the top tier of teacher salaries in North Texas and I believe that is necessary to remain competitive in regards to recruiting and retaining teachers. It is important that we are not just competitive with newly certified teacher salaries, but also competitive with the salaries of more tenured teachers. We want to be recruiting and retaining top-notch educators for our students, and having a competitive salary scale helps to ensure that we are doing just that.

 

 

4. Citizen Speakers – please respond by March 23, 2023

Currently citizen speakers are given a two minutes to make their points on a subject. Do you feel that is an appropriate amount of time? Why or why not?

In an effort to be respectful of everyone’s time (board members, citizens, students, and administrators), allowing citizen speakers two minutes is a fair compromise. From time to time, the number of citizen speakers on the agenda can be large and a time limit is unfortunately necessary to control the length of the meeting. In an effort to allow citizens to be heard, it will be my goal to always be available for more detailed discussions before and after board meetings. This allows for two-way dialogue and for more effective conversations.

 

5. Communications – please respond by March 30, 2023

If you receive an e-mail from a constituent similar to the top of this webpage [ http://arlspectator.mysite.com/rich_text_83.html ], but concerning an AISD issue and/or problem, will you respond to the constituent? Why or why not? What actions will you take?

I believe that transparent communication with teachers, administration, students, and community stakeholders is a vital part of serving as a school board trustee. I will always strive to listen and respond to anyone who reaches out to me. If someone reaches out to me with a concern, I will do my absolute best to research their concern and provide them with a timely response or possible solution. Making sure that I am listening to, learning from, and serving my constituents will be a top priority of mine.

 

 

6. Issues – please respond by April 6, 2023

Other than selecting a new superintendent, what is the most important issue the board is currently facing? Why? What are your suggestions for addressing this issue?

 

Addressing the current teacher shortage is one of the biggest issues that our board will need to continue working through. The current teacher shortage is not unique to our district; this is a national issue that all school districts are struggling with. The most impactful way that we can, and already are addressing the teacher shortage is to maintain being highly competitive in the area of teacher salaries. In addition to continuing to be mindful of teacher pay, I believe we need to make sure that we are working to build teacher/campus morale by finding ways to lessen the teacher workload, offer more campus support, and ensure that campus discipline policies are being enforced.