HOUSTON – With a new school year less than two months away, it’s the biggest question on parents’ minds: What will school be like in the age of COVID-19?  “I would love to, as most people, to be able to send my children back in the safest way possible,” said Pearland mom Arwan Jackson. “Things are changing by the week, the day, much less August 18th, 19th when we go back.” It’s not just the safety of sending kids back to school that concerns her. It’s the cost of that safety as well. The masks, the frequent deep cleans, the school buses running half-empty, the potential for more virtual learning, and computers for every student... who’s paying for all of that? view article arw

In one sense, pre-K has won the day. In another sense, it may be yet another casualty of COVID-19.  A critical mass of research has shown that when kids have access to high-quality pre-K they do better in the school years immediately following — in some cases performing on level with their wealthier classmates. Pre-K, it seems, is slowly becoming what kindergarten was in the 1970s, a fully funded grade level for every child (albeit attendance will likely be non-mandatory in most states, as is kindergarten). view article arw

Spring ISD passed its 2020-21 budget during a special meeting last Tuesday, the first deficit budget the district has passed in some time due to a pay increase, full-day prekindergarten and other projects. Board members passed the overall budget made up of $426 million, including $337 million for general fund expenditures, representing a $7.1 million deficit. Spring ISD Chief Financial Officer Ann Westbrooks said the deficit was due to the challenging budget environment caused by the coronavirus pandemic and flattened student enrollment, which is projected to be about 35,433 students next year. view article arw

The Temple ISD school board is expected to approve their $115.9 million budget for the 2020-21 academic year on Monday. If approved, teachers will receive a 2.7 percent average raise, while remaining staff will receive a 1.5 percent raise — an additional $3.5 million for staff compensation, positions and equity adjustments. Superintendent Bobby Ott told the Telegram these proposed pay increases will provide staff comparable salaries without needing to adopt a deficit budget nor dip into their fund balance reserves. view article arw

Fitch Ratings - Austin - 26 Jun 2020: Fitch Ratings has assigned a 'AAA' rating based on the Texas Permanent School Fund (PSF) guaranty and a 'AA' underlying rating to the following San Antonio Independent School District, TX's (the district) bonds: view article arw

Trustees for the Edgewood Independent School District approved a budget for the upcoming school year Tuesday evening with a nearly $9 million shortfall.  The $104 million budget is $8.6 million higher than the district’s expected revenue.  Most of the budget shortfall will pay for expenses brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak, including $1.9 million to purchase enough tablets and laptops for every student to have a device, and $2.4 million for internet network connectivity.  Edgewood Superintendent Eduardo Hernández said it wouldn’t be responsible to give a child a device without making sure they have access to the internet. view article arw

The Spring ISD board of trustees unanimously approved a nearly $426.2 million operating budget for the 2020-21 school year during a special called meeting June 23. Up from the 2019-20 school year budget of nearly $324.7 million, the newly adopted budget includes a general fund of nearly $337 million, a debt service fund of nearly $59.7 million, $29.5 million for child nutrition and a deficit of $7.1 million. view article arw

The Klein ISD school board approved the district’s 2020-2021 budget during a June 22 meeting. The adopted budget includes $484.5 million in estimated general fund expenditures, a proposed lower tax rate and a 2% pay increase for all Klein ISD employees. view article arw

Socorro Independent School District officials said nearly 200 kids have been withdrawn.  District officials said the number is normal, but parents are the one’s uneasy about moving forward with a regular school year.  “It’s something that we’re not taking lightly,” Kassie de la Cruz said.  There are hard decisions to be made for parents who depend on the public-school system.  “It’s going to change a lot of dynamics in our house,” de la Cruz said. view article arw

Comal Independent School District trustees will approve a $300 million budget for 2020-21 and consider measures to reduce bond indebtedness during their regular monthly session Thursday.  For 2019-20, Comal ISD’s overall budget of $274.6 million included $204.4 million for general operations, allotted $61.9 million to debt service and $10.3 million to child nutrition programs. In 2020-21, it proposes increases of 7.27% for operations ($219.3 million); 12.17% for debt service ($69.4 million); and 8.41% ($299.9 million) in total expenditures.  Thursday’s meeting will be the first regular session for the revamped board. David Drastata and Jason York switched positions, now respectively serving as president and vice president, with Michelle Ross continuing as secretary and Tim Hennessee as treasurer.  view article arw

With uncertainty of what the new school year looks like because of coronavirus, the Hays CISD Board of Trustees unanimously passed a budget that begins July 1 and goes through 2020-21 school year.  The budget shows balanced revenues and expenditures of $249,985,771 for the next year.  The board also approved raises for its employees and will likely pull back on its $218 million bond proposal that was moved from a May election to November, citing too many questions about what the school district will need on the other side of coronavirus. view article arw

The Round Rock school district is spending $1.7-million of its new budget on a dedicated police department.  Amid the call from activists to defund police departments, the Round Rock school district’s new budget includes $1.7-million for a dedicated police department. view article arw

Frisco ISD will have a budget of over $781 million for the 2020-21 school year as a result of board approval.  The board approved the budget for next school year at a June 22 special meeting. Around $605 million in the budget will go toward the operating fund, nearly $25 million toward the child nutrition fund and around $151 million toward the debt service fund, according to FISD Chief Financial Officer Kimberly Smith. view article arw

Keller ISD's Board of Trustees unanimously approved Monday a $333 million budget in the general fund for the district's 2020-21 fiscal year.  Next school year's budget anticipates $333,339,230 in expenditures from the general fund which would provide a $137,589 surplus.  Accommodations are included in the budget to comply with the district's understanding of the second year of components related to House Bill 3. view article arw

The Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees passed a $1.65 billion budget for the fiscal year 2021 at Monday’s regular meeting. The approved budget includes a big dip into the general fund reserves of $44.22 million to make up for an anticipated shortfall in the general fund budget, and gives a 2% cost of living adjustment for all employees and a $500 stipend for “hero workers,” which are classified staff who have been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. view article arw

Amid uncertainty in Texas education funding, the Austin school board Monday night is slated to adopt a $1.65 billion spending plan for the 2020-21 school year.  The trustees’ decision will come one day before the Texas Education Agency announces guidance for how it will allocate funding to districts. School funding is tied to attendance, but with some families pledging to not send their students back to in-person schooling during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s unclear how the state will calculate the amount for online students. State education funding also may be in jeopardy as Texas sales taxes and oil and gas prices plunge. State leaders already have directed state agencies to cut their budgets by 5%. view article arw

The Round Rock school district adopted a $450.7 million budget Thursday night after several hours of contentious debate around funding for mental health services and the development of a police department.  At its regular meeting, the board of trustees voted 3-2 with two abstentions to approve the 2020-21 budget as presented by the district, despite concerns that it lacked funding for increased mental health and social services.  More than a dozen community members addressed the board and asked them to redirect some or all of the $1.7 million allocated to developing a police force to student support services, such as hiring additional social workers. view article arw

Facing uncertainty in Texas education funding, the Austin school board Monday night is slated to adopt a $1.65 billion spending plan for the 2020-21 school year. The trustees’ decision will come one day before the Texas Education Agency announces guidance for how it will allocate funding to districts. School funding is tied to attendance, but with some families pledging to not send their students back to in-person schooling during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s unclear how the state will calculate the amount for online students. State education funding also may be in jeopardy as Texas sales taxes and oil and gas prices plunge. State leaders already have directed state agencies to cut their budgets by 5%. view article arw

Template Correction

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A message from Omar Garcia:  This only applies to “Harvey” districts – the number of “Harvey” pennies that auto-load in Cell C165 is a negative number and should be a positive number.  The easiest way to fix it is to simply change the negative number to a positive one.  The ‘official’ way it will be corrected is as follows:     (23) read more arw

Last budget cycle, thanks to an infusion of funds from the Texas Legislature, Liberty Hill ISD and districts across the state were able to give sizable raises to teachers.  In Liberty Hill, teachers received raises between four and seven percent, and all other staff received a three percent raise.  Fast forward to today and prospects look much leaner for all school districts across Texas. The LHISD Board of Trustees was faced with that reality Monday, voting to approve a one-percent increase for staff from the market midpoint. The across the board raise is expected to increase the district’s payroll by $345,235.  “I’m very happy with the work of Rosanna Guerrero, our CFO,” said Superintendent Steve Snell. “She has been very diligent so we can maximize teacher compensation as much as possible. But I’m disappointed that there’s just not more funding available to compensate our teachers. view article arw

After being instructed to cut costs during the coronavirus pandemic, Pflugerville ISD Chief Operating Officer Ed Ramos said his department’s goal has been to find at least $3 million to trim. Ramos returned to the PfISD board of trustees on June 18 and said his staff has ultimately identified more than $5 million in cuts from the remainder of the district's 2019-20 fiscal year budget. view article arw

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The TEA’s elementary and secondary school emergency relief fund will send nearly $1.2 billion to Texas schools. But, those funds won’t be supplemental as some school districts originally thought. “It looks like that instead of having some supplemental funds, they’re going to be used to plug any budget gaps in the state’s funding of public schools,” said Marty Crawford, Tyler ISD’s superintendent.  After learning his school district wasn’t getting an extra $4,315,535 — but instead, that money was to fill gaps in its budget — Crawford said he wasn’t disappointed, but grateful.  “The state made a promise to us early during the shut down that school funding, we wouldn’t have to worry about that, that we’d finish the fiscal year whole,” said Crawford. “This was the pool of money they’re able to plug that gap because of the economic downturn that already effected school budgets.”   (19) view article arw

Humble ISD’s new $434 million budget was designed with three dominant goals in mind — prepare for future economic hardships due to COVID-19, retain all Humble ISD employees and continue to fund important student initiatives, district officials said.  The Humble ISD board of trustees unanimously approved the 2021 fiscal year budget, which includes a nearly $14 million surplus, during a special school board meeting on June 16. view article arw

Cy-Fair ISD board members approved a $1.04 billion budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year, which includes a $39.8 million shortfall to provide district employees with raises in the coming year.  “We’ve actually adopted several deficit budgets, but we’ve been very fortunate, and we have not realized any of those deficits to this point,” CEO Karen Smith said at the June 11 board work session. “We fully believe that we will be adding a little bit to fund balance this year for 2019-20.”  The final amended budget for 2019-20—which initially included a projected $27.5 million deficit—shows the district will add at least $2.7 million to its fund balance by the time the fiscal year ends, according to Smith, who said the district already has about six and a half months of expenses in its fund balance. view article arw

The Georgetown ISD board of trustees voted to approve its budget for fiscal year 2020-21 on June 15.  The budget includes the general fund, the food service fund and the debt service fund.  For revenues, the district anticipates bringing in a total of $174.56 million, including local, state and federal funding. That is broken down into $130.14 million for the general fund, $5.44 million for the food service fund and $38.98 million for the debt service fund. view article arw

The Fort Bend ISD board of trustees approved the district’s $737.5 million budget for the 2020-21 year at its June 15 meeting. The approved budget does not include raises for teachers and staff, nor does it include step increases. FBISD Chief Financial Officer Bryan Guinn said pay increases were not included in the budget because of the need to be fiscally conservative during the economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic. view article arw

The Georgetown ISD board of trustees is looking to adopt an $159.83 million budget for fiscal year 2020-21 during its June 15 meeting. The proposed budget includes a proposed maintenance and operations tax rate of $0.9964 per $100 in valuation, a $0.0136 decrease from last year. The district will also maintain its $0.329 per $100 in valuation interest and sinking fund rate as it had last year, according to district documents. view article arw

Trustees in Richardson ISD voted unanimously June 15 to adopt a budget for school year 2020-21.  Staff is projecting the upcoming year’s expenditures will total $386.7 million, a 5% increase from the 2019-20 budget. General fund revenue is projected to increase by 2.8% to $379.1 million.  The majority of costs are related to instruction and instruction-related services, Chief Financial Officer David Pate said. The general fund also includes both recurring and one-time funds for literacy intervention, COVID-19 intervention, pre-K expansion and special education costs.  A 1% raise for all employees and a $750 retention stipend for certain full-time, returning employees who meet requirements outlined in the budget are also included, according to Pate. view article arw

Grapevine-Colleyville ISD’s 2020-21 budget includes increased pay for teachers along with a higher recapture payment to the state. During the June 15 GCISD board meeting, trustees adopted the budget for the upcoming school year while taking into consideration school funding laws approved during the 2019 legislative session. The budget is composed of three parts that the board must adopt annually: the general operating budget, the child nutrition budget and the debt service budget. view article arw

On Monday night, Belton ISD’s Board of Trustees approved pay raises for the 2020-2021 school year. Approved salary adjustments will make the district’s pay competitive with districts of comparable sizes and invest in providing better learning experiences for students, according to a press release from the school district. It is also to retain and attract quality employees. view article arw

Richardson ISD employees could receive a 1% pay raise in the coming school year, according to a recommendation discussed during Monday’s school board meeting. All employees would also receive a $750 retention stipend if they worked during the 2019-2020 school year and return in 2020-21. view article arw

The Killeen Independent School District board of trustees will be discussing plans for the upcoming school year at its meeting on Tuesday.At the previous meeting, the board discussed plans that included returning to school as normal on Aug. 17, continuing with complete virtual learning as they did to finish the 2019/2020 school year and a hybrid plan that mixes the schedule where some students will go to school and some will learn virtually for the first half of the day before switching.  Also during the meeting, Megan Bradley, the district’s chief financial officer, will discuss budget planning with the board; the employee health insurance plan for the upcoming years; and a lighting project for Leo Buckley Stadium. view article arw

State to keep $1.2B in aid

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Instead of going directly to districts, money will pay down state portion of school costs.  Since the coronavirus pandemic shuttered campuses in mid-March, the Austin school district has shelled out $9.8 million for technology, academics and premium pay to workers on the front lines to ensure student learning would continue.  District administrators anticipate spending about $36 million more for the 2020-21 school year for remote learning, training materials and protective equipment.  Despite a federal economic relief package, Texas school districts, including Austin, might be left absorbing most of those coronavirus-related costs. view article arw

Armed with more questions than answers about the future — COVID-19 costs? 11-month school year? Classes that are virtual, in-person or hybrid?  What do we do with calls to defund our police department? — the Houston ISD trustees Thursday night trudged through another lengthy meeting and approved a $2 billion budget for the 2020-21 school year in a 7-2 vote. view article arw

The economic impact from the coronavirus pandemic has left some of Texas’ biggest cities facing a difficult choice: cutting services like libraries, pools and parks, or raising taxes on their residents in the middle of the worst economy in a generation.  “For example, this summer you’ll see swimming pools not opening. I think you'll see branch libraries not opening,” said Bennett Sandlin, executive director of the Texas Municipal League, which represents city governments around the state. “I can't speak for any particular city, but I think it’s going to be a deeper, far deeper recession than what we saw 12 years ago.” view article arw