- Paris Flash
- Real Estate
North Lamar Independent School District has little interest in consolidation talks at the moment.
Trustees Bill Coleman and Dave Osborne said they had talked to one or two who supported the idea, but they were from Paris.
Dawson said he put consolidation on the agenda as a discussion item after the Chisum ISD school board did the same.
“I have a definite feeling we’re not interested in it,” he said. “I feel very good – and I think most people feel very good – about our district.”
NLISD might be willing to consider the issue if someone showed how it would be beneficial, Dawson said. A report complied by the superintendent showed a consolidation of Paris and North Lamar would require annual debt payments of about $3.16 million. With appraised property value of about $1.632 billion, that would require a debt rate of 19.76 cents per $100 valuation. An operational rate of $1.04 would give the larger district a rate of $1.2376.
Combining Chisum, Paris and North Lamar would result in a district with $2.41 billion and a tax rate around $1.2241. A Chisum/Paris consolidation would likely have the highest tax rate, at about $1.2961.
Dawson did not figure the numbers for a North Lamar/Chisum consolidation.
North Lamar’s current rate is $1.12.
There are a number of ways those rates could change. The numbers were compiled from the other districts’ audits. The $1.04 used as a baseline for operational taxes is a reflection of North Lamar’s rate, which is the highest it can go legally. But Paris ISD’s rate is $1.17. How a merger of the districts might affect that is unclear, Dawson said.
Trustee Brad Perry noted that a lot of the conversation deals with consolidation of tax bases, but there are other issues, including transportation, food service and administration.
“We don’t know if it’d be one school, two schools,” Coleman said. “Just financially, it’s not advantageous for our taxpayers.”
A consolidated Paris and North Lamar would be too big for some parents, leading to further decreasing enrollment, Dawson said. Some would move to Prairiland or Chisum. Roxton ISD is currently advertising for students to transfer there because it’s a smaller district, Osborne said.
Larger schools also have more discipline issues and wider gaps in testing, Dawson said.
“I worry about participation with kids – getting to play, getting to be in the band,” he said.
Osborne said North Lamar’s current size is an advantage when it comes to dealing with issues that may crop up.
“We’re agile enough that you start focusing on it right then. You don’t wait until next year to roll out a new program,” he said. “I think we’re serving the kids better that way.”
NLISD does cooperate with other districts on a wide range of projects, Dawson said: Cosmetology, health occupations, auto tech, electricity pricing, paper and other supplies. NLISD also runs an alternative school that several other area districts participate in. Paris did at one time, but pulled out after a year.
Board members complemented staff members for their handling of the district’s finances, especially in light of the fact that North Lamar received a superior rating for the 2010-2011 school year under the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas, the highest rating possible. The audit gave NLISD 65 out of possible 70 points.
The district lost a few points because it paid off some debt early and because of staffing ratios – FIRST says a district should have a student-to-teacher ratio of 6.3 and a student-to-staff ratio of 11.5. NLISD had a teacher ratio of about 6.01 and a staff ratio of about 11.49.
The staff numbers were a little high because NLISD runs the alternative school for several districts. The teachers there are credited to North Lamar’s payroll, but the students are not figured into the ratio – they go back to their original districts.
Business Manager Tammy Crutcher said she appealed the finding, and FIRST acknowledged it was a bit unfair, but would not change the score because it wouldn’t affect the rating.
“It’s a negative to pay your debt off,” Perry said. “That doesn’t make any sense at all.”