Public schools in Texas spent an estimated $68.8 billion during the 2018-19 academic year, a 0.7 percent increase in expenditures over the previous year, according to a National Education Association report. The change in education expenditures in Texas ranked the sixth lowest among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, the NEA said. The state’s public education system spent $68.3 billion during the 2017-18 school year. view article arw

One of the most politically heated battles the Dallas school board has undertaken in recent years was the decision to transform some classrooms into charters. Parents and teachers crowded meetings for months urging the board to not “privatize” any part of DISD by handing control over to outsiders. Trustees argued amongst themselves late into the evening — and well into the early morning hours — before finally agreeing earlier this year to create partnerships that allow private operators to run some DISD prekindergarten classes as charters. view article arw

Public schools in Texas spent $10,783 per student based on average daily attendance (ADA) figures, the 13th lowest expenditure level among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to a National Education Association report.  The change in public school expenditures per student based on ADA data from 2016-17 to 2017-18 stood at 5.91 percent, the NEA said. view article arw

The same week Austin ISD voted to shut down four elementary schools because of a shrinking student population, the board of a neighboring school district is about to build a new elementary school. The district expects to gain thousands more students in the next five years. When school lets out at Herrington Elementary School in Round Rock, after school pickup can get kind of hectic. That's because this corner of Round Rock ISD is reeling from explosive growth. view article arw

The Kansas City School District falsified attendance data for three years in a bid to regain full accreditation from the state, according to the results of an investigation released Wednesday. Because Missouri funds schools in part based on student attendance, the manipulation led to the district being overpaid and it will have to repay money to the state. The amount the district will have to return hasn’t been determined. view article arw

The population of special education students within Lake Travis ISD has grown at a faster rate than the district anticipated. LTISD budgeted instructional allocations based on a projected 12% growth in enrollment; however, based on current enrollment data the district will require additional staff. LTISD has seen a 29% increase, or 81 new students, from the 2018-19 school year, compared to a 3.6% increase in overall district enrollment. As a result, the board of trustees approved an additional seven full-time equivalent positions during the Nov. 20 board meeting to accommodate the needs of the department. The majority of the 81 students are the result of new families moving into the district with already identified special education children, according to Laura Abott, LTISD's director of special services. view article arw

Liberty-Eylau Independent School District's financials are in good shape, according to a recent audit. Tim Holt with Thomas & Thomas CPA's presented the 2019 audit, which covered the district's finances through June 30, 2019. The report shows there are no significant deficiencies in the finances, he said. view article arw

Carroll ISD didn’t benefit as much as some districts from the Texas Legislature’s overhaul of the school finance system. The changes to school funding were hailed as a remarkable achievement and a boost to public education across the state. But as the dust settles on HB 3 and SB 2, it turns out that not all school districts are benefiting equally. view article arw

House Bill 3, which passed in June, provided Eanes ISD with less financial assistance than neighboring school districts in Central Texas, and consequently, according to EISD, the district needs to evaluate current and future budget deficits. EISD said the 2019-20 $2.3 million budget deficit was in part due to the 4.5% compensation increase allocated to all staff members June 19. The possibility of adding to the district’s golden penny fund to make up for the lack of funds and immediate financial assistance from HB 3 was discussed during a Nov. 19 regular board meeting in a presentation by EISD Chief Financial Officer Chris Scott. view article arw

Austin ISD has addressed its controversial plan to close a number of schools ahead of a press conference on Monday. In a statement, the school district acknowledged that it was one of the biggest benefactors of House Bill 3. view article arw

Tyler Independent School District thanked community partners during its annual State of the District on Thursday. Each year the district highlights successes and opportunities for growth at the annual luncheon, but this year there was a special focus on the community members and local lawmakers who helped guide school finance reform in this year’s legislative session. view article arw

The 40,300-student Leander school district again will need to prepare for an influx of new arrivals. Leander remains the fastest-growing district in Central Texas, having added nearly 4,600 students — more than any other Austin-area school district — from 2013 to 2018, the latest district demographics report shows. view article arw

In recognition of the district’s ongoing efforts to ensure greater accountability and transparency, Spring ISD was awarded a Transparency Star by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Comptroller Glenn Hegar recently announced Spring ISD is among the latest local government entities to achieve the transparency goals outlined through the state’s Transparency Stars program. “By providing meaningful financial data in addition to visual tools and analysis of its revenues and expenditures, Spring ISD has shown a true commitment to Texas taxpayers. This effort achieves the goals set by my office’s Transparency Stars program,” Hegar said in a press release. “I am pleased to award Spring ISD a star for its accomplishments.” view article arw

In Texas, as in many other states, when the talk is of teacher pay, it’s often about how little they make, how many of them must work a second job to pay the bills. Which is why, apparently, Texas sets a minimum pay figure for teachers. With school administrators and non-teaching professionals, the conversation is more likely to be about how high their salaries, or extra benefits, or severance packages are. There’s no need to set required minimums. view article arw

Standard and Poor’s has upgraded Barbers Hill ISD’s credit rating from AA to AA+. The agency noted the district’s added support of the Barbers Hill ISD Education Foundation, financial management with healthy reserves, and management practices and policies in assigning this high-quality credit rating.   Superintendent Dr. Greg Poole stated, “This stronger rating places BHISD in an elite group of the top 20 school districts in the state financially and indicates the faith the financial community has in our school board and business office leadership. Our taxpayers will benefit from lower interest rates as a result of wise financial practices, and Assistant Superintendent of Finance Becky McManus and her staff are to be commended.” Moody’s Investor Service affirmed the district’s Aa2 rating, citing the “district’s large and growing tax base, dominated by economic concentration in oil and gas and petrochemical sectors, and favorable resident income indices. The rating also reflects the consistent trend of favorable financial performance and materially higher reserves relative to peers…”  Barbers Hill ISD’s strong financial management was recognized by Moody’s in 2015 when they upgraded the district to Aa2. view article arw

New state mandated full-day pre-kindergarten comes with some funding, but not enough for the Arlington school district to make all the needed renovations and additions. The district, which offers half-day pre-kindergarten, expects the early childhood offering to double the required classroom space. view article arw

Millsap ISD board of trustees approved a resolution to pay off bond debt, totaling $735,000, during the school board meeting on Monday evening at Millsap Administration Board Room/Media Center. The debt was paid for using interest and sinking tax revenue and about $357,000 from the interest and sinking fund balance, Superintendent Deann Lee said. “That’ll still leave us about $970,000 in our I&S fund balance, so we’re still in good shape,” Lee said. view article arw

A very important issue will be presented to taxpayers in Broaddus in November considering whether voters will approve Broaddus Independent School District purchasing enrollment credits from the state of Texas. Broaddus ISD recently fell into Chapter 49, also known as the Robin Hood program. The program was launched in 1993 to take funding from school districts with higher property values within their boundaries and give it to poorer school districts which can’t raise much money, according to the Texas Education Agency. view article arw

Enrollment at Plano ISD has dropped by approximately 450 students since last year. This comparison was made with enrollment numbers from Oct. 5 of last year and Oct. 3 this year, according to a report by Chief Financial Officer Randy McDowell at a district work session Oct. 15. While enrollment grew by more than 100 students from September to October this year, the growth is not strong enough to make up for large secondary classes graduating from the district, McDowell said. view article arw

Proposition 7, which will appear on the November ballot, would, put simply, increase the amount of funding to public education by up to $300 million a year. The proposed constitutional amendment would raise the cap the School Land Board can distribute annually to the Available School Fund — which funds schools on a per-student basis as well as pays for textbooks and other instructional materials — from $300 million to $600 million. view article arw

The Killeen Independent School District is seeking a legislative change that could keep it from losing federal funding in the coming years, Superintendent John Craft told the board Tuesday night. The district receives millions in federal aid for educating children from military families connected to Fort Hood. This year, it is set to receive $46.6 million, but its population of 36.4% military students could decline below the 35 percent required for the heavy version of the federal Impact Aid, Craft said. view article arw

After collecting an unexpected $19.5 million in one-time revenue, the Spring ISD board of trustees will be considering several options for one-time expenditures to use the money for, including a possible bonus for their employees. The additional non-recurring funds received by the district this year were compiled from three different sources. Spring ISD Chief Financial Officer Ann Westbrooks said the biggest contributor to that amount was SB 500 from the past Texas Legislative Session, which gave supplemental funds to school districts affected by Hurricane Harvey, splitting it up based on the property value decline of each district following the hurricane. view article arw

The state’s financial accountability system has given Clear Creek ISD an A grade, the highest possible score, demonstrating the district’s quality financial management and reporting, according to an Oct. 8 CCISD press release. “This rating reinforces our commitment to be strong stewards of public dollars,” Superintendent Greg Smith said in the release. “I am proud of our staff and our school board for always placing our resources to support student achievement.” view article arw

Brock ISD receives clean audit

October 0908:25 AM

Brock ISD board of trustees approved the 2018-19 independent financial audit during the meeting Monday evening at Brock Elementary School. The audit received a clean or unmodified opinion from Snow Garrett Williams accounting firm. “That’s the highest level of assurance that we can give you on these financial statements, so that’s what you want to see on this audit report,” Snow Garrett Williams partner Lindsey Kennimer said. view article arw

As Austin ISD officials continue their community engagement after releasing their draft scenarios for what the district's School Changes 2019 process could look like, pressure is building around two central themes: whether AISD can really claim its plans are equitable when most students to be impacted by the changes are from low-income families, and broader demands to slow down the process. Parents have asked what specific data was used to identify their schools for closure – most vocally at Maplewood, Pease, and Ridgetop elementary schools. Others, like Webb Middle School, may not have as loud a voice but are just as confused and concerned. view article arw

Tucked inside a list of budget amendments — brought to a vote late in the night at the most recent Dallas ISD’s board meeting — was something that could revolutionize the way school districts spend money. DISD trustees unanimously approved a small $60,000 pilot that would ask students and community members at local high schools to brainstorm, craft and compete for grants to fund a project of their choice on their campuses. The process, known as participatory budgeting, is designed to spark interest and engagement around how governmental bodies make choices and fund them. view article arw

Omar Garcia with BOK Financial Securities has a new release (Release 11 dated 09/30/2019) that is now available for download.  This new release includes my understanding of how the Tier I compressed tax rates are supposed to work beginning with 20-21 given the 2.5% value growth provision that kicks in and how TEA is going to implement the provision in HB 3 related to the 90% threshold in statewide compression rates (see Notes tab).  There will be more to come, so as always, please stay tuned for any new developments. read more arw

Wichita Falls ISD set a property tax rate of $1.15 -- 7 cents lower than last year's -- for 2020 in a special meeting Monday, but the state nullified the district's Tax Ratification Election because of a new law, officials said. The TRE approved by voters June 15 was to result in $1.4 million more in state funding for WFISD while reducing the property tax rate, officials said. view article arw

More than triple the amount of new students anticipated arrived through the doors of Pflugerville ISD campuses in the first week of classes, according to district numbers. PfISD Chief Financial Officer Ed Ramos told trustees Sept. 5 the district grew by 735 students as of the end of August. PfISD anticipated a growth of 233 students, Ramos said. view article arw

Ahead of state lawmakers convening in downtown Austin last spring, Round Rock ISD documents show the district estimated it was likely on the hook to pay more than $58 million back to the state in property taxes in the 2019-20 school year under Texas’ public education funding formula—otherwise known as recapture. After Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 3 into law June 11, though, the school district has since budgeted its recapture payments at a much lower sum: zero dollars. RRISD now states it will not have to send recapture funds back to the state until at least when the Texas Legislature reconvenes in 2021. view article arw

As the statutory deadline nears for municipalities to approve their budgets for the upcoming fiscal year, the Weslaco and Mercedes city commissions gathered in their respective chambers Wednesday to hammer out the final details. While officials in Weslaco wrapped up their budget process Wednesday, officials in Mercedes met for one final budget workshop before they put the matter to a vote at the end of this week. view article arw

Omar Garcia with BOK Financial Securities has a new release (Release 10 dated 09/16/2019) that is now available for download.  This new release includes a few additions and corrections from the prior release. Please read the notes on the Notes tab before entering data.  There may be more to come, so as always, please stay tuned for any new developments. read more arw

Comstock ISD assessing HB3 protocols

September 1908:25 AM

Although House Bill 3, which is regulating school funding starting this year, will be bringing along some impacts on small schools, there is more in school finances than meets the eye, Comstock Independent School District Superintendent O.K. “Buddy” Wolfenbarger said. The overall effect of HB3 to small schools will be positive, according to Wolfenbarger. “There are many parts of the bill that deal with increased student and teacher performance in the classroom that will yield great results for our students,” Wolfenbarger said. view article arw

Recent legislative changes will bring millions of dollars in additional revenue to Richardson ISD this school year. House Bill 3, signed into law June 11 by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, drastically altered the Texas public school funding formula. But some districts fared better than others, RISD Chief Financial Officer David Pate said. view article arw

Houston ISD was able to avoid a recapture payment for the first time in three years. Texas’ largest school district was paying about $300 million to the state.   The payment was part of the tax revenue redistribution plan, which takes revenue from property-rich districts and gives it to poorer districts.   HISD was deemed a “property-rich district” in 2016, a distinction the district’s board resisted at the time. The lack of a recapture payment means that the district won’t face a funding shortfall when it undertakes a state-mandated property tax cut this year.  view article arw