Lynn Torres, Superintendent

Summer is a busy season for school districts, especially after a busy legislative session. Kudos to our state lawmakers who voted to pour $4.5 billion into education during the 86th Texas legislative session, with $1.6 billion of that amount earmarked for teacher salaries.

While many details remain to be ironed out this fall, Lufkin ISD will see at least a net gain of more than $10 million in revenue from the state.

Our state Rep. Trent Ashby is to be commended for all of his hard work ensuring that this overhaul of the education budget became a reality for all Texas school districts and teachers.

Thank you also to Sen. Robert Nichols and State Board of Education member, Dr. Keven Ellis, who served on th governor’s committee for school finance.

The state mandates that out of the money received, 30% must be spent on raises to full-time employees, with the exception of administrators. The Lufkin ISD Board of Trustees will take a huge step to value our staff by further committing an additional 10% of that gain to these mandated raises.

That’s an extra $1 million to support our staff and the work they do every day in the classroom to educate our students. I anticipate that our staff will be pleased with the proposal. What a tremendous show of support.

Lufkin ISD is moving forward this summer with the bond projects. With the passage of the bond by Lufkin voters in May of 2018, Lufkin ISD sold a $40 million bond in June of 2018 to start the construction process. We will not sell the remaining $35 million until the summer of 2020.

This means that the voter-approved bond sale will not raise property taxes during the 2020 tax year. The voters will have the full benefit of the tax compression recently passed as part of HB3, with as much as a 13-cent reduction in property taxes. Bond sales next summer will affect the 2021 property tax values.

Be looking for two projects up for bid this summer: the multi-purpose facility at Lufkin High School and the new baseball and softball fields. Groundbreaking ceremonies will follow shortly thereafter. Both of our construction contractors, Berry and Clay and Langston Construction, use local subcontractors on a regular basis.

This will be a lucrative opportunity for local businesses to work on projects close to home, not to mention the economic benefit of millions of dollars turning over in our community.

In January of 2020, demolition for the Lufkin Middle School project will begin. This will be a three-phase project lasting until the summer of 2023. The Lufkin ISD family and the community will have lessons in patience throughout this process.

We are currently planning for the start of construction by moving some classes and buildings now to clear the way for Phase 1 to begin.

There are some periods of time where some facilities, like the auditorium and Panther Gym, will not be accessible. We have worked to notify our partners about the periods of time when our facilities will not be available for use or rental. They, like us, are looking forward to the finished product.

Our state legislators, school board, the community and staff are working hard this summer to ensure that every day of the 2019-20 school year our students can say, “It’s a great day to be a Lufkin Panther!”