As the San Felipe Del Rio Consolidated Independent School District presented data for the allocated funds budget for each campus during a regular board meeting held Monday, board of trustees’ members asked for more transparency with data for available funds at each campus.
Chief Finance Officer Henry Arredondo said the data was current as of Aug. 12, and provided board members information regarding allotment per student, revised budget, fiscal year-to-date activity, encumbrance and available funds for each campus.
School district Superintendent Dr. Carlos Rios said the allotment per-student gives each campus a budget and the available funds would change by the end of the week.
“Before we move forward, the first notation I want to make is these are funds allocated to the campuses. This is in no way a per-student expenditure, this is just money given to the campuses to buy supplies,” Rios said.
In the data, nine campuses had available funds over $1,000 and seven had available funds under $730. “Between now (Monday) and the end of the week, campuses will use some of that money to buy folders and other consumables from the warehouse,” Rios said.
Board President Raymond P. Meza said he asked for the report because he would like to see the funds used to purchase curriculum materials. In a follow-up statement, Meza said he found it disappointing there was almost $83,000 left unspent from the campus allocations.
“I asked for this report because if you asked the principals to visit their departments in their individual campuses and advice teachers this money is available, it would be spent. I think about monies that’s left over … I would want this money to be used for curriculum supported material and not so much for art, tempera paint, construction paper and so forth. It’s intended to be allocated for the students,” Meza said.
Meza said while he urged principals to speak with their teachers, he did not want campuses to purchase and stockpile supplies that may not get used. “I wouldn’t want the high school to purchase $44,000 at the warehouse and stockpile supplies that might not be used,” Meza said.
Meza said he would like to propose board members to share the funds with campuses that are utilizing them and purchasing curriculum materials if funds are not being used from campus to campus.
“Every year I am surprised at the amount of money that is left. Again, my intention, asking for this report, was not an alert for the principals to spend this money. This money is intended for teachers and material that would be utilized by all departments,” Meza said.
The Texas Education Agency rating was discussed during the board meeting, specifically the “closing the gap” subgroup. Meza said he had concerns regarding that specific rating.
“My biggest concern is that we scored a ‘C’ in ‘closing the gap.’ We have this money available to purchase the materials and if they (the teachers) need to purchase this material, be it for bilingual students or for any other subgroup that money should be utilized,” Meza said.
According to Meza, “closing the gap” was the lowest scored subgroup in the school district’s rating. Board member Alfredo Contreras agreed with Meza’s statement.
“I agree with you Mr. Meza. If the school is not going to use it, give it to someone that will use it,” Contreras said.
Contreras said he would like to see available funds primarily used on instructional supplies, library supplies and physical education.
Each campus has until the end of the month to spend allotted monies as this will close out the allocated funds budget from last year. “In another couple of weeks each campus will get a new allotted budget, of similar proportion,” Rios said.
Meza reiterated his previous statements and said the funds are not meant to be stockpiled because then it goes back to the general funds. “We always have teachers spending out of their own pocket for supplies. The intended purpose of this is for the principals to make their teachers aware that this money is available,” Meza said.
Rios said instructional supplies are the biggest component of the allotted funds for each campus, followed by office supplies. “I want to be clear, we have to go back and look at the beginning of the budget year the principals receive the money then they allocate certain amount of money for instructional supplies,” Rios said.
Rios said he did not want to put all the work on the principals and suggested central administration send each principal a report. The report would remind each principal of allocated funds not being used.
The report available at the meeting did not explain how much any campus versus another spent on instructional supplies. “We may find out that the instructional supplies that were allotted were used but it was the other supplies that weren’t spent,” Rios said.
In his follow-up statement, Meza said the response board members received from Rios was not a valid one. “With just a few clicks of your mouse you are able to access your campus budgets and know exactly what the daily balances are in each of the categories,” Meza said.
In the data, the school district was compared to Eagle Pass ISD, Edgewood ISD and Harlandale ISD. Other districts contacted, but information not received, include Crystal City ISD, San Angelo ISD, South San Antonio ISD, Southwest ISD, United ISD and Uvalde ISD.
Del Rio funds more compared to the allotment budgets of Eagle Pass, Edgewood and Harlandale. “I’m not saying we fund too much money but we can do a better job on coaching our teams on how the money’s being spent so they can make adjustments throughout the year,” Rios said.
A follow up report will be established in September.
“If we’re going to go that much into detail, then give us a report for the past three years showing where principals spent that money. It could be the money is only going towards one department and can be shared throughout (the campus),” Contreras said.
Board Secretary Diana Gonzales said she wondered about that same concern. “I was wondering about that myself. Do they (the principals) give a monthly report on expenditures?” Gonzales asked.
In response to Contreras’s comment, Rios said he did not know how far back administration can go for the information, but he confirmed they would be able to provide information for this year.
Board member Kenneth Smith said the data, at a surface level, was a little deceiving and didn’t tell the board members everything they wanted to know.
“It’s great to see the small amounts. It’s the big amounts that worry me,” Meza said.
According to Rios, there are instances where a campus makes an order but it is denied for different reasons. The campus then has to go through the entire application process for that specific order and it may not be approved until the end of the year.
If a campus will not utilize the available funds, then the board will continue discussion and come up with suggestions on how to allocate that money for someone that needs it, according to Meza.
“There’s lots of needs in the classroom. I just want to make sure that money does not go from instructional campus allocation to general funds,” Meza said.
Meza’s follow-up statement can be fully viewed online at delrionewsherald.com