Following the heated discussion of August’s Rusk County County-Wide School Board meeting and the group of letters sent to area Superintendents proclaiming the potential loss of Equalization Tax monies to the districts, the Board met again with an unprecedented turnout.
Hoping to persuade the Board to continue doling out the monies garnered, area Superintendents showed up to express their gratitude and continued need for the RC Equalization Tax money.
Byron Jordan, Mt. Enterprise Superintendent, explained that this money was generally used to update the school buildings, pay for janitorial services, and purchase supplies he did share that these taxes had, at one point, been the deciding factor between the school’s budget remaining in the “red” or moving into the black. Superintendents from Laneville, Tatum, and West Rusk ISDS concurred with Jordan’s declaration of the continued need felt by each district. Teresa Shelton, Laneville ISD Superintendent shared that this money paid for the replacement of necessary air conditioning units at her campus.
In a letter received by Cushing ISD, they stated that the RC Equalization Tax money has always been placed into the Cushing ISD Endowment account and only ever used as a post-secondary education scholarship for Rusk County students. When there is no Rusk County graduate from Cushing ISD the money is left to accrue interest until a Rusk County graduate can earn that scholarship.
Dale Hedrick, Kilgore resident, running on the November ballot for the board seat soon opened by the retirement of Worth Whitehead, spoke before the board to commend their decision to lower the No New Revenue Tax Rate but did ask that they consider setting the rate to 0% and asking that the committee continue to seek out answers as to how to dissolve the board completely.
Regular meeting attendee, Dana Pearce reiterated her disappointment in the Board’s lack of online presence and coined the group a “shadow government” with no mission statement and no formal accountability.
Precinct 2 seat holder, John Carter, took a moment to educate the available school administration that most of them were considered “net givers”. This term is given to those school districts that collect less than their residents spend in Equalization Tax money, a group in which Tatum, Laneville, and Henderson ISD’s belong.
The board went on to approve August’s meeting minutes, approved the adoption of the 0.013218/$100 property valuation for the 2021 Equalization Tax and its subsequent order.
They chose to approve the 20-21 budget of $2,000 and explained that of last year’s budget only $434 was used, $200 of which was returned.
The group chose to table until the next meeting the option to select a chairperson and chair pro-tem which would allow the new board members to make the final decision as Whitehead and Vinson expect to have stepped down before that time.
The board did then move to adjourn ending another unusually verbose meeting.