Brian Schuss, now in his 8th year as the business manager for the Flour Bluff Independent School District and recently named the lone finalist for the superintendency, addressed the members of the Flour Business Association on August 10, 2016. Prior to coming to the District, he was the Business Manager in Port Aransas ISD. Mr. Schuss also served in the New Mexico State Legislature Finance Committee and worked closely with the state’s Public Education Department. His education career began in the classroom as an Economics and Secondary Mathematics teacher. Schuss began with expressing how much he loves being a part of FBISD. He went on to talk about certain topics that he feels all people who live and/or work in the district ( See map below) should know.
“Summer is a very busy time for school districts. We have to prepare for the upcoming school year by setting the tax rate and approving a budget,” said Schuss. “School district budgets are extremely tight. Fortunately, Flour Bluff’s budget is not as tight as many others. Districts that are located near oilfields are in really tough shape right now.” Schuss explained that the state’s school finance plan has not been adjusted in over ten years and that he and other school leaders will be addressing members of the State legislature, especially Todd Hunter, before the next session starts up in January. “I think everyone can understand what happens when you get the same amount of money each year even though you get more students and expenses continue to go up.”
Schuss went on to say that he has worked it into the budget to give Flour Bluff teachers a 2.5% raise, which he expects the Board to approve at the next meeting. “Our teachers do an amazing job. If you’ve taught, you know it can be tough. If you haven’t, we all should respect what they do teaching the smallest child all the way up to the high school student. I taught high school and had about 150 kids a day. They all have different situations; they’re all interested in a lot of different things; and you have to bring them together in about 40 minutes to learn what you need them to learn before you send them on to the next teacher. It is a tough job, and we need to give our teachers all we can afford to give them.” Later in the meeting, Schuss said, “Our teachers are already back at work. They really need their summers to decompress and get energized so that they’ll be ready for the next school year.”
The tax rate was the next topic covered by Schuss. “I hear a lot about tax rates and that tax rates are very high. School tax is about 50% of your total property tax bill, and that is a large number. As far as school districts in our area, FBISD has the lowest rate,” said Schuss. He went on to explain that the tax rate is made up of two different parts: maintenance and operations (day-to-day expenditures in running the district) and debt service. As you know, a couple of years ago we had a successful bond election, and we’re about half way through it. We’ve had a ton of construction going on this summer, and I am really excited about it. We should finish up in about a year or year and a half. The biggest project we have going on right now is the natatorium. It’s a little over $10 million project that should be completed in March. You should start seeing the metal building going up around that. It’s going to be really impressive and great for the community.”
Schuss explained that the community will be able to use the pool, but not like Parker Pool is used. “It’s not the kind of pool where we pay a dollar and jump in yelling ‘Cannonball!’ It’s not that kind of facility.” He told the group that the pool would be open to the public for lessons, lap swimming, and other very structured activities.
“On the M&O side, Flour Bluff ISD’s tax rate is about $1.04 per $100 valuation of your home. With voter approval, we have the ability to go all the way up to $1.17, but we are not going to do that. You have to pay those bills, and we respect the community. We want to give as much for your money as we can, and we would never ask for any increase unless we absolutely have to,” Schuss said.
He discussed the effective tax rate and the importance of staying under what is allowed. “Technically, as long as a taxing entity stays under that number, it is not technically raising taxes. Our effective tax rate is $1.18, and we’re coming in at $1.154350. I don’t mean to bore you with all this, but I want the community to understand that we’re doing everything we can to keep the tax rate down and do what’s best for our community. We do know that property values increase, so we have to do our part on the tax rate.”
Schuss ended his talk with information about registration for the school year, which is online. Everyone has until August 18 to register, but those who still have not been able to sign their children up will be able to do so in person at Central Office on August 22, the first day of school. Follow this link for information on registration and all other areas interest concerning the school.
“Right now we have registered a little over 4000 kids, and we need at least 2000 more,” said Schuss. He is hopeful that all of the new residential construction will result in an increase in the number of students at the school.
An audience member asked about the Glenoak apartments that were recently demolished. “The apartments are going to be completely re-built. All of the families who were displaced will still be allowed to attend Flour Bluff schools. They are supposed to relocate the families within the district, but if that can’t happen, they have to go outside the district. These families will be allowed to use the 711 Glenoak address as their permanent address, which allows them to legally attend Flour Bluff. By the next school year, the families should be back in the apartments.”
Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day. She also writes and edits for The Texas Shoreline News, a Corpus Christi print newspaper.