Archive | January, 2012

Hutto ISD trustees look at budget cuts for next year

13 Jan
LAURI ZACHRY
Education Reporter

Round Rock Leader

Since a 6-cent tax rate election failed in Hutto ISD in November, administrators and school board members must now consider cutting an additional $1.2 million from its projected $38.9 million 2012-13 school year budget.

One of the major factors affecting HISD’s budget is Texas school districts are not receiving additional funding from the state to fund student growth, said HISD assistant superintendent of business and finance Ed Ramos. They are predicting 4-percent growth, to 5,879 students, which adds an additional $1.5 million to next school year’s budget.

“There is no way to leave expenses as is because extra students will be coming in,” Ramos said during Thursday’s HISD Board of Trustees meeting. “We have to do something because of our increased growth.”

Currently, it costs $6,831 to educate a student in HISD.

HISD Superintendent Doug Killian said the community has already experienced the $4.5 million in cuts made for the 2011-12 school year in ways such as charging an extracurricular fee for students competing in middle school and high school University Interscholastic League events. The fees are charged on a sliding scale starting with a $25 yearly

fee for a student to participate in unlimited activities. Students qualifying for federal reduced lunch programs are charged $12.50 and for students on free lunch the fee is $2.50.

Killian said HISD is looking into having another tax rate election in September but this time the amount will increase the total tax rate by 13 cents. He said the tax rate election will help the district financially but some cuts will still need to be made.

“We will have to make cuts even if the tax-rate election passes since we have to pass our budget by Sept. 1,” Killian said.

One of the largest cuts administrators and board members could make is restructuring the current Legacy Early College High School located at the Temple College in Taylor campus. The program costs $500,000 to run. If students take those classes on the Hutto High School campus, HISD could save $300,000 which includes $50,000 in transportation costs.

HISD officials would need to hire four additional teachers for this program, which amounts to a total cost of $200,000, Killian said. There are 114 HISD students attending the Legacy.

Three parents spoke during Thursday’s board meeting urging the district to leave the Legacy Early College High School as is.

Trustee Connie Gooding is concerned with the possibility of parents pulling their students out of HISD and transferring to Taylor ISD since the Legacy program is offered through that school district, too. She said this could result in a loss of per-student funding for HISD.

Killian said there are several misconceptions out there regarding future plans for Legacy that administrators will have to work through over the next several months.

“Cutting Legacy all together is not the proposal we want,” Killian said. “We are looking at it and other things in our district at all levels but haven’t even begun to make those decisions yet. We have to fulfill the obligation for this year’s juniors. We would like to see if we could fulfill the obligation for this year’s sophomores as well.”

For HISD to be considered financially strong, it needs to have about $7.7 million in the fund balance. The district has $3 million in the fund balance for the 2012-13 school year. It costs approximately $3 million a month to run the school district, Ramos said.

HISD has also lost some federal Title I funding. Federal government officials state the district has approximately 464 students eligible for the federal free and reduced lunch programs. However, HISD data states 47 percent of the student population, or over 2,000 students, are eligible for the free and reduced lunch programs, Ramos said.

If the tax-rate election tentatively set for September does not pass, the district will approve a total tax rate of $1.54. Of that tax rate, $1.04 goes to the maintenance and operations portion which funds things such as teacher salaries and 50 cents of that goes to the debt service rate.

HISD will have a budget workshop Tuesday, Jan. 23 to further discuss budget options.

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Annual Jonah Chili Supper February 17

13 Jan

Mark your calendars – it’s CHILI time again!

New Hutto Police Chief Peter Scheets to address Hutto community

11 Jan


The Hutto community will get the opportunity to hear from newly appointed Hutto Police Chief, Peter Scheets, at the January 12, 2012 Hutto Economic Development Corporation Power Breakfast.

This event will be held at 7:30am at the Holiday Inn Express in Hutto. Like all Hutto EDC Power Breakfasts, this is a free event open to the public.

About Peter Scheets

Peter Scheets began his law enforcement career in 1996 for the City of Bryan, Texas. He has held numerous positions with the City of Bryan including patrol officer, detective, patrol sergeant, detective sergeant, assistant chief, deputy chief, and even acting chief of police. Peter’s position at the time of his hiring as Hutto’s police chief was Assistant Chief of the Administrative Services Bureau. Prior to his service in Bryan, Chief Scheets served meritoriously in the United States Army.

Scheets will begin work for the City of Hutto on January 9, 2012.

Real Estate news & info

11 Jan

Want to know what is happening in central Texas real estate? Then subcribe (free) to Maureen Rooker’s Real Estate Advisor.

“Maureen Rooker” <a119620@real-estate-mail.net>
Informative and interesting

New Virus – warning from Mike Adams, Prime Focus Forensics in Hutto

11 Jan

The F.B.I. released a warning about the return of the infamous “Zeus” virus in a new format known as “Game Over”. This is a virus specifically designed to steal your financial data first, and then steal your money. That is what it does and it is very good at doing it. Zeus was first seen a few years ago, it was tamed, but now it is back and it is dangerous. Here is some information from the Ziff – Davis Network which is one of our security alert partners:

A new variant of the notorious Zeus identity-theft Trojan is making the rounds and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) says it is capable of defeating common methods of user authentication employed by financial institutions.The latest strain of the ID-theft malware, called Gameover, begins as a phishing scheme with spam e-mails — purportedly from the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA), the Federal Reserve Bank, or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) — that leads to malware infection and eventual access to the victim’s bank account.

From the FBI warning:

“The malware is appropriately called “Gameover” because once it’s on your computer, it can steal usernames and passwords and defeat common methods of user authentication employed by financial institutions. And once the crooks get into your bank account, it’s definitely “game over.”

Gameover is a newer variant of the Zeus malware, which was created several years ago and specifically targeted banking information.”

The FBI said the phishing lures typically includes a link in the e-mail that goes to a phony website.  ”Once you’re there, you inadvertently download the Gameover malware, which promptly infects your computer and steals your banking information,” it warned.

The FBI said recent investigations have shown that some of the funds stolen from bank accounts go towards the purchase of precious stones and expensive watches from high-end jewelry stores.

The criminals contact these jewelry stores, tell them what they’d like to buy, and promise they will wire the money the next day. So the next day, a person involved in the money laundering aspect of the crime—called a “money mule”—comes into the store to pick up the merchandise. After verifying that the money is in the store’s account, the jewelry is turned over to the mule who then gives the items to the organizers of the scheme or converts them for cash and uses money transfer services to launder the funds.

Hutto Community Resource Center

9 Jan

Hutto Community Resource Center is a non-profit organization working together with our community to offer and assist with the network of resources that are available to meet the needs of individuals and families. We are located at 623 W. Front Street, Ste 2100, Hutto Texas and can be reached at (512) 846-1377 or http://www.HuttoCRC.org.

Office hours:

Monday, Wednesday and Friday: 12 noon to 6:00pm.

TRANSPORTATION TO ROUND ROCK SERVING CENTER

1st, 3rd, and 5th Thursdays at 7:30am

FRESH FOOD PROGRAM:  Round trip transportation to Round Rock Serving Center on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Thursdays of each month for the fresh food for families produce distribution program.  Call (512) 846-1377 to reserve a seat.

2nd Friday at 2:00pm

HOPE bags:  Supplemental groceries for seniors who are 60+ years old.  Call (512) 846-1377 to reserve a seat.  

VOLUNTEER ORIENTATION     Held on the 4th Monday at 4:00pm, call (512) 846-1377 to register.

PROGRAM STUDIES:

EARLY CHILDHOOD INTERACTIVE LEARNING EXPERIENCE:  The main focus of the program is the interaction of the parent with the child.   Tutoring sessions on phonetics, numbers/letters comprehension and recognition.  It is a two hour segment: 2:00pm to 4:00pm – Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

MUSIC THEORY: Tutoring in the art of learning to read music by recognizing and understanding music notes, their values, time signatures, key signatures and rhythm.  Tutoring sessions will include chords and the different inversions and various scales of music.  Participants for the study start at the age of 12 years to adult.   Friday – 5:00pm to 6:00pm.   

OTHER ASSISTANCE PROGRAM(S)

DRESS TO IMPRESS FOR WOMEN:  Provide (1) interview outfit for the purpose of seeking employment.  Enhance interview skills; assist in reviewing and updating resume.  Individuals must provide evidence of application for employment and proof of upcoming job interview. 

Volunteers are the backbone of the community and the need for volunteers are great.

Where Do I Start?

Step 1: Complete a Volunteer Application on-line at www.HuttoCRC.org or at 623 W. Front St. Ste 2100.

Step 2: Attend a Volunteer Orientation Meeting.

How You Can Help?

We need you, your time and special talents.

Donate non-perishable food items to the Food Pantry

Make a monetary donation

Donate coats to the Orange Santa Program

Donate women’s clothing appropriate for job interviews

Top of Form

Volunteers are needed for the following tasks: Phone Receptionists, Casework Interviewers, Food Pantry Volunteers, and Merchandise Sorters. Volunteers are also needed to sort food donations, stock food pantry shelves, teach computer classes, refurbish computers, data entry and drivers with their own transportation and proof of insurance.

Westphalia Market follow up

7 Jan

If you haven’t been to the Westphalia Market in the Hutto Commons yet you are really missing out – – especially if you like good meat at a good price. A pound of smoked, thick cut bacon that is heavy on the meat (looks more like European bacon than what you normally find in stores here) is only $3.99.

The process and cut their own meats so prices are usually lower – – that’s right, lower than HEB or Walmart and the quality & taste is excellent. The Hippo Eggs are divine (just ask Margo) and the fresh Hutto sausage is great pan fried or BBQ’d. Syeaks are delicious and give them a day’s notice can be cut to order.

Even the tiny fresh produce section is excellent.

Drop by, tell Brandon I recommended you do so (along with everyone else I’ve talked to who has been there) and give it a try. You’ll be glad you did.

Something New & Sweet

7 Jan

Mama J’s in the Exchange Center has two new items that are really tasty!

First is a raspberry swirl – sort of like a cinnamon swirl but better. Has a very thin clear sugar icing that is perfect and lets the raspberry taste dominate.

Second is a lemon tart – a big tart filled with tart lemon wrapped in a soft dough and covered with a bit of powdered sugar.  If you like lemon this is a little bit of heaven!

Try them both – they are simply scrumptious!

(I would have posted photos but Robbi and I ate the subjects.)