Texas public schools will not be required to make up the days they missed during last week’s energy blackouts. School districts and charter networks can apply for waivers with the Texas Education Agency so the missed days don’t count against them. TEA is also allowing districts to stay closed or go 100% remote this week as needed to complete repairs. Texas’s public schools are usually required by law to complete 75,600 minutes of instruction each year. Districts that apply for the waivers must show proof the closures were necessary.    (24) view article arw

relating to the use of average enrollment for purposes of the public school finance system.    (23) view article arw

Last year tested almost every facet of our lives, and this year has certainly brought more challenges with the winter storm. The challenges of virtual learning and school closings as a result of COVID-19 have not gone away.  Due to these unforeseen circumstances, many schools across the state are seeing a decline in enrollment because of valid choices made by many parents. However, the declining number of students in the classroom could potentially lead to lasting financial damage to our school systems if we do not act. view article arw

SWEENY — After a Wells Fargo bank account was opened with $400,000 from the Sweeny ISD Education Foundation, without the knowledge of the school district’s chief financial officer, the school board is looking into the matter. view article arw

Texas students need additional resources to overcome academic setbacks brought on by the pandemic, but school leaders aren’t so sure they’ll have the flexibility to spend new federal dollars to help them..  The federal government gave Texas two big education stimulus packages — totaling around $6.8 billion — to help students recover from the pandemic.  But as the first package of $1.3 billion flowed to districts, local school administrators saw aid cut elsewhere. It was hard to keep up with the new needs driven by the pandemic— such as physical improvements to campuses so students can learn safely in person and expanded online infrastructure for those in remote classes — as Texas used federal dollars to replace state funding. view article arw

EDINBURG — Enrollment at the school district here is down by around 1,500 students this school year compared to last year, raising concerns over funding from the state tied to attendance reports. Eduardo Moreno, assistant superintendent for technology services for Edinburg CISD, presented the district’s attendance and enrollment records during a school board meeting Tuesday. As of Feb. 5, ECISD had 32,792 students enrolled. On the same day in 2020, that number was 34,301, representing about a 4% decrease. ECISD’s Pre-K level has seen the biggest decrease in enrollment this past year, dropping from 2,058 students to 1,432. view article arw

What was once considered a worry at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has become a reality for Cy-Fair ISD, as students are experiencing an instructional gap due to the ongoing challenges school districts are facing as a result of the virus.  According to Linda Macias, chief academic officer for Cy-Fair ISD, students have seen a noticeable gap caused by lost instructional time in spring 2020 and adjustments to blended, online and in-person learning for elementary and secondary school students. view article arw

Lewisville ISD is always on the lookout for more revenue opportunities, and some new ideas may come in the form of buses, scoreboards and debit cards. Bill Lee, director of marketing for the district, recently presented ideas to the LISD Board of Trustees on how to increase revenue through advertising and sponsorship efforts. “Sponsorships in LISD provide our business partners opportunities to work closely with us and take full advantage of power of our brands, and I think that’s huge,” Lee said. “While at the same time providing a potential exceptional income for the district.” view article arw

The Veterans Memorial Eagles and the Coastal Bend are losing one of the area's best coaches as Cody Simper is headed up to the Houston area. Simper has been named the Head Coach of Class 6A Cypress Woods in Cy-Fair ISD after leading the Eagles to new highs in 2020-2021. view article arw

The Belton Independent School District is now accepting student transfers for the upcoming 2021-22 school year, according to a news release. The application period opened Monday and ends March 5. Visit bisd.net/transfer to apply. Students in pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade who live outside of Belton ISD can apply to move into the district. Current Belton ISD students also can apply to attend a different school than the one where they are currently zoned. Current transfer students must reapply annually. view article arw

All Austin ISD staff may soon get a retention incentive benefit of up to $1,000 in March. According to a video sent to staff, this is AISD’s way of thanking all employees for their hard work during the pandemic. Last summer, Education Austin recommended bonuses to the school district and this week Superintendent Dr. Stephanie Elizalde made an announcement. view article arw

The Austin ISD board of trustees will meet for its monthly board work sessions and a special voting meeting Feb. 11, the first time in 2021 the district will meet on a Thursday night. Here is what to expect Feb.11. view article arw

Two former East Texas superintendents have joined the staff at Longview ISD after board members approved the hirings at their regular Monday meeting.  Trustees voted in favor of hiring former Spring Hill ISD Superintendent Wayne Guidry and former Carthage ISD chief John Wink.Guidry is now the Longview ISD assistant superintendent of business, transportation and technology, replacing Joey Jones who resigned to take a job in DeSoto. Spring Hill ISD officially accepted Guidry’s resignation on Jan. 28.  Board President Shan Bauer said the district would miss Jones and his positive impact on the district but that Superintendent James Wilcox has an “ability to seek out those who are on the same innovative wavelength he has.  “We are looking forward to working with (Guidry),” she said. “We have heard nothing but good things, especially his background in finance. That’s something that’s very, very important in a school district this size.” view article arw

The Montgomery Independent School District will host a town hall meeting Tuesday evening to discuss the budgeting process and priorities for the 2021-22 school year. It will include an overview of district revenues and expenditures. The meeting will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. in the board room of the MISD Education Support Center. “As we work through our budget process, we are fully committed to transparency, active engagement and making meaningful improvements to employee salaries,” Superintendent Heath Morrison stated on a district blog. “I look forward to the community’s participation in these discussions.” view article arw

Texas schools are largely funded based on who shows up to class, a measure with the potential to undercount students in low-income communities.  Education finance experts say using an attendance-based funding model exacerbates inequities — and that continuing to do so as districts work to recover from the coronavirus pandemic could be especially harmful.  Texas schools are largely funded based on who shows up to class, a measure with the potential to undercount students in low-income communities.  Education finance experts say using an attendance-based funding model exacerbates inequities — and that continuing to do so as districts work to recover from the coronavirus pandemic could be especially harmful.     (08) view article arw

Overall, attendance across the state is down 3% from October 2019 to October 2020. That equals out to 156,596 fewer students, according to the TEA.  School districts still don’t know if their budgets will be tied to the past school year’s attendance or if the grace period will be extended. That could be the difference between possible budget cuts or keeping funding at the same level.  Districts in North Texas are connecting with wayward students to make sure they stay in school and get the support they need.  In December, 82 Texas lawmakers asked the Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath to extend the agreement through the rest of the school year.  “Our districts are facing deadlines to make critical decisions regarding their budgets, including consequences to staffing and programs, if the Hold Harmless does not continue,” the letter said.  It was signed by representatives on both sides of the aisle representing North Texas, including Rep. Angie Chen Button, Rep. Nicole Collier, and Rep. Jeff Leach. view article arw

The Waco ISD has refinanced $106,740,000 in outstanding bonds in a move that it says will save taxpayers more than $15.84 million over the remaining life of the bonds from now until 2038. The move reduced the initial 4.28% interest rate of the bonds to about 1.655%, the district’s financial advisor, Robert Traylor of RBC Capital Markets, said. The bonds, from 2014 to 2016, are part of an earlier refunding of bonds issued to pay for construction of University High School and three elementary schools, J.H. Hines, Bell’s Hill and Dean Highland. view article arw

Four Austin ISD school closures in one year has left parents worried about the district’s renewed interest in seeking real estate consulting services for its properties. Fearing more closures, concerned parents called in to ask for postponement of the vote on agenda item 10.1, which if approved by the board of trustees, would authorize AISD to seek real estate advice from a consulting company. The trustees agreed to postpone the decision to their Feb. 25 meeting. “We have to make sure that the community is with us every step of the way. It is a $400,000 contract. People are scared that this is the first step in closing schools,” Board Secretary Arati Singh said in a phone interview with the Austin Monitor. “It is very destructive to a community to close a school.” view article arw

Overall, attendance across the state is down 3% from October 2019 to October 2020. That equals out to 156,596 fewer students, according to the TEA.  As the school year and pandemic continues, districts are left wondering whether their budget will be tied to student attendance due to the fate of a "hold harmless" agreement.  Last year, a “hold harmless” agreement was put into place by the Texas Education Agency to keep funding at pre-pandemic levels.    (05) view article arw

As Plano ISD continues its unprecedented school year, enrollment issues related to the coronavirus pandemic could lead to a budget deficit of around $10 million for the district. Amid concerns about the spread of COVID-19, PISD is more than 2,000 students below projected enrollment for the current year. The Texas Education Agency uses average daily attendance to determine the amount of state funding each district receives. PISD Superintendent Sara Bonser said those more than 2,000 students bring in about $10 million in funding that may not be available for the current semester. “[That] attendance funding represents about 4% of our annual budget,” Bonser said during a Jan. 12 PISD board of trustees meeting. “If you're thinking of that in personnel units, it's about 182 teachers.” TEA implemented a hold-harmless guarantee for the first semester of the 2020-21 school year that ensured districts would receive their anticipated funding, regardless of changes to attendance or enrollment. But TEA had not applied the guarantee to the spring semester as of Feb. 2.    (03) view article arw

El Campo ISD administrators are planning for lost revenue next year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic through a new program rewarding faculty for giving advance notice should they decide to leave the district. “Based on the assumption that we will have less students and revenue, our goal is to decrease staff through attrition,” according to the superintendent’s notes for the Jan. 26 school board meeting agenda. The Early Separation Notification Incentive program is optional for eligible employees, Superintendent Bob Callaghan said. “The district anticipates that work will be available in the 2021-2022 school year for all eligible employees who do not choose to resign under the plan,” Callaghan said. “The district does not currently anticipate terminating any eligible employees at the end of the current school year for financial need.” During the 2020-2021 school year, ECISD has seen decreased Average Daily Attendance of about 82 students, which accounts for about $500,000 in lost annual revenue. Lower attendance is due to the ongoing pandemic, according to administrators, and the district anticipates attendance could be down by about the same number of students in the 2021-2022 school year, or the number could increase to about 100 less students daily. view article arw

Omar Garcia with BOK Financial Securities has a new release that is now available for download. This new release loads the Comptroller’s preliminary 2020 values and makes other minor changes (see Notes tab). As always, please stay tuned for any new developments – there will probably be some. view article arw

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Gov. Greg Abbott will outline his priorities for the year — many of which focus on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic — during the annual State of the State address Monday. Abbott’s speech begins at 7 p.m. and is expected to last about half an hour. It will be followed by a response from Texas Democrats, and a roundtable discussion with Texas journalists and a Republican and a Democrat, which will conclude at 8 p.m.  Abbott is expected to speak about COVID-19 vaccine distribution, reopening businesses that shut down because of the pandemic and public school funding.  view article arw

NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - The wait continues by school districts in East Texas on the legislative decision concerning continued school funding for the rest of the year. It’s referred to as the ‘hold-harmless’ provision. The funds, based on student enrollment, could keep public schools funded at pre-pandemic levels. Dr. Gabriel Trujillo, superintendent for Nacogdoches ISD, met with Donna McCollum to discuss the significance of the funding decision. view article arw

The COVID-19 pandemic, disproportionate state funding and uncertain enrollment are hurdles that have created budgetary constraints for Eanes ISD. This is according to a preliminary fiscal year 2021-22 budget overview held during a Jan. 26 board meeting, in which EISD officials discussed a projected budget shortfall upward of $600,000 for next year. view article arw

Allen ISD is seeking voter approval to purchase attendance credit from the Texas Education Agency with local tax revenue — its process of paying recapture since 2011. Before House Bill 3 was passed by the legislature in 2019, the TEA would remove the payment from the funding it sent to the district. The new law requires that the district send a check directly to the state, which requires voter approval. view article arw

Longview ISD Assistant Superintendent of Finance Joey Jones has announced his resignation to take a similar role with a school district in the Dallas area. The DeSoto ISD board approved the administration’s recommendation to name Jones as chief financial officer at trustees’ Jan. 19 meeting. He will begin Feb. 8. Jones worked in Longview ISD for 10 years, where most recently he served in the assistant superintendent role overseeing payroll, benefits, accounts payable and accounting, according to Longview ISD. view article arw

Longview ISD Assistant Superintendent of Finance Mr. Joey Jones announced that he is resigning to accept a similar position at DeSoto ISD, effective Feb. 5th.  "It's been a privilege to work with Dr. Wilcox, the Board of Trustees, and all the wonderful people of Longview ISD," he said Monday. "I will always look back fondly on my time with the district, and wish LISD continued success in every endeavor."  Mr. Jones steps down after ten years of service in the district, where he most recently served as Assistant Superintendent of Finance: overseeing payroll, benefits, accounts payable, accounting and several other business and finance management functions. view article arw

Two years ago, Texas passed an $11.6 billion education funding reform bill that lawmakers called historic. This year, the 87th legislative session, which began Jan. 12, will again be key for the future of the state’s education, according to Bob Popinski, the director of policy at Raise Your Hand Texas, a nonprofit that advocates for equal access to public education.  “The big issues at the session—I think it’s going to be budget issues; it’s going to be virtual and remote learning and how we fund that and open it up statewide; it’s going to be about the state assessment with A-F [accountability ratings for districts]; and there might be some discussion on charter schools,” he said.  In 2019, House Bill 3 increased state funding per student in Texas and provided $5 billion in tax compensation and supporting programs, including the expansion of prekindergarten services and teacher incentives. view article arw

Though the overall effect that the coronavirus pandemic will have on Katy ISD remains unknown, district officials said they hope to pass a balanced budget for the 2021-22 school year.  KISD Chief Financial Officer Christopher Smith presented a kickoff for the budget process for fiscal year 2021-22 during a Jan. 19 board meeting. The budget process will continue over the coming months.   view article arw

Killeen ISD audit finds faulty data

January 2208:40 AM
 

Killeen Independent School District found data inaccuracies which, if left uncorrected, could result in lost state and federal funding.  “There were several data integrity issues that we found over several areas,” Greg Gibson told the Killeen ISD board at its first board meeting of the year Tuesday. view article arw

Five years after the passage of their last bond, Richardson Independent School District (ISD) is primed to move forward with another this year to the tune of $750 million. The district’s Bond Steering Committee (BSC) recommended a tax rate of $1.40 per $100 of evaluation — while not a rate increase, a real dollar increase above the 2.5 percent allowed by Senate Bill 2 without voter ratification. view article arw

Bob Popinski is the director of policy for Raise Your Hand Texas, an Austin-based organization committed to improving public education. He spoke with Community Impact Newspaper in late December about the 87th legislative session, which began Jan. 12. view article arw

The 2019 Texas legislative session ended on a high for public education, with more money spent on schools than had been in more than a decade. But going into the 2021 session, the tables have turned for school officials. The coronavirus pandemic has put funding in jeopardy by reducing attendance, lowering state revenue needed to make last session’s gains sustainable and adding new expenses and challenges for schools trying to educate kids who have lost time. view article arw

AUSTIN, Texas — The education system has been rocked throughout the entire pandemic, and that has left behind a plethora of financial issues for Central Texas school districts. Some state leaders say, regardless of the pandemic, they want to maintain the school finance bill. Austin ISD Board of Trustees President Geronimo Rodriguez said he hopes that's the case.  "One of the things that House Bill 3 did was it increased funding by almost $1,000 per student. So, that funding is going to be really, really important to ensure that we can have the right teachers, the right staff, the right school bus drivers, the right food service workers to be there. I think that's so important to make sure that we have all of those funding opportunities there," Rodriguez said. view article arw