Since COVID-19 reached Texas, public schools have had to use money not previously budgeted for the pandemic to purchase the necessary equipment, such as laptops, personal protective equipment, and new online learning programs, to meet standards set forth by the Texas Education Agency.  Teachers have had to learn how to teach in this new environment on the fly.  State of the district: Cy-Fair ISD officials recap COVID-19 precautions  “A lot of teachers are struggling right now because of a mechanism of how our schools are funded when it comes to attendance,” Robert Long, regional director for advocacy and outreach for Raise Your Hand Texas, said. “They’re having to teach in person and virtual students at the same time. It’s not the district’s fault, it’s a mechanism of school funding and how we get our schools funded through attendance.”    (29) view article arw

New Template Release 6 dated 9/21/2020

September 2408:41 AM

Omar Garcia with BOK Financial Securities has a new release (Release 6 dated 9/21/2020) that is now available for download.  This new release loads the 19-20 ESSER ADA and all other COVID ADA/FTE student counts, along with other miscellaneous data.  Other tabs are added and other updates have been made (see Notes tab).  As always, please stay tuned for any new developments – there will probably be some.    (25) read more arw

Following a year in which Austin ISD saw its student enrollment rise for the first time since 2012, the district is now estimating a decline of more than 5,000 students for the 2020-21 school year, which would bring enrollment down to about 75,000.  During a presentation to trustees Sept. 28, AISD Chief Business Officer Larry Throm said the enrollment decrease could result in $48 million in lost state revenue if numbers do not begin to trend upward as the school year continues.  “We don't want to alarm anybody,” he said. “These are facts, and we'll wait to see it in another two weeks where we are taking attendance daily to see if we can improve on these numbers.”  According to district data, AISD’s enrollment as of Sept. 25 has dropped to 75,001, compared to 80,261 in the 2019-20 school year. view article arw

KAUFMAN COUNTY, Texas — In a historic pledge by Kaufman County commissioners this week, public school children county-wide will benefit from an initial $2 million dollars in federal CARES Act dollars that will be further maximized by grant funding thanks to the collaboration and hard work of local school superintendents.  In March Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill in response to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. view article arw

If decreased enrollment continues throughout the fall and spring, the Waco Independent School District may face a bigger budget shortfall than anticipated.  So far, Waco ISD has enrolled about 2.6% or 388 fewer students this school year, which started in-person and remotely on Sept. 8. Enrollment stood at 14,547 students, as of Wednesday morning, district spokesperson Josh Wucher said.  On the same day last year, Waco ISD had 14,935 students enrolled. Most of the missing 388 students represent prekindergarten and kindergarten students who would have enrolled in the district but may have moved or delayed starting school, Wucher said. view article arw

AUSTIN (Nexstar) – When Texas lawmakers return to the State Capitol for the upcoming legislative session in January, there will be many competing priorities – and education advocates hope equity in learning isn’t lost in the shuffle.  As part of a nationwide project called “Pandemic PASS or FAIL,” Texas lawmakers are now taking a closer look at solutions our team has discovered groups implementing across the state to combat learning challenges for students disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. view article arw

At the most recent Victoria Area Homeless Coalition meeting, representatives from the Victoria I.S.D. shared that since the school district has taken charge of local Head Start programs, the number of students identified as homeless has increased to 272. Since the start of the 2020-2021 school year, the number of Victoria I.S.D. students recognized as homeless has increased from at least 100 students identifying as homeless. view article arw

Marshall ISD trustees on Monday adopted a decreased tax rate for the 2020-21 school year, just weeks after adopting a balanced budget that included pay increases for some staff.  The trustees on Monday adopted a decreased tax rate of $1.2563 per $100 of home valuation, a decrease from the $1.26 tax rate last school year.  The total tax rate for 2020-21 is made up of $0.9664 on the maintenance and operations side and $0.2899 on the interest and sinking side, for the total tax rate of $1.2563 per $100 of home value.  The district’s total tax rate has dropped each year since 2017 when the district completed the Legacy Bond project voters passed in 2015, which included the construction of four new school buildings. view article arw

Cy-Fair ISD’s student enrollment has steadily grown over the last several years, with an estimated 118,498 students expected in the 2020-21 school year. See how CFISD compares to neighboring school districts in enrollment and other statistics below. view article arw

Jacksonville ISD Trustees, during the regular school board meeting Monday, named Luke Ocker as the district’s new Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Ocker will begin the position in November.  “Luke is an outstanding fit for Jacksonville ISD,” said Dr. Chad Kelly, JISD Superintendent. “I am pleased that we were able to attract someone of his caliber, with the unique combination of successful and effective financial and educational experiences. Mr. Ocker’s expertise and prudent financial stewardship will benefit us as JISD continues the reputation as a leader in the educational finance world. We are excited to welcome Mr. Ocker to the Jacksonville ISD administrative team.” view article arw

Belton Independent School District Board of Trustees discussed the next steps in the district’s COVID-19 response plan Monday. Belton ISD started school on Sept. 8 in 'Scenario 4' of its plan, which means all students learn from home on Wednesdays to allow for additional teacher planning. Under Scenario 4, the high schools operate on a hybrid schedule where students attend in-person classes two days a week and learn from home three days a week, according to Belton ISD. view article arw

With four decades as a public school administrator, Dallas ISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa has learned that patience is important when it comes to student enrollment numbers.  On Tuesday, a day after The Dallas Morning News highlighted the district’s current enrollment woes, Hinojosa said that DISD’s forecast was cloudy, but that didn’t mean a storm wasn’t necessarily on the way.  While the district would have to hustle to draw back its youngest students in prekindergarten, Hinojosa said he expected most students to slowly come back to the school, especially once in-person classes resumed in the coming weeks. And help would likely be on the way from any number of avenues if the district suffered funding losses that were created by lower enrollment.  One thing definitely not in the forecast, Hinojosa said, is staff cuts. view article arw

Frisco ISD may not be reimbursed for much of its COVID-19-related expenses, according to a Monday presentation from Chief Financial Officer Kimberly Smith. At the FISD Board of Trustees Monday meeting, Smith said the district is not seeing as much reimbursement as it had hoped for. As of Sept. 14, the district had about $2.7 million in COVID-19 expenses, Smith said. view article arw

During the Sept. 8 Garland ISD District Affairs Committee meeting, Kim Caddell, executive director of research, assessment and accountability, provided the committee with an update on the teacher incentive allotment (TIA). The TIA was first presented to the board of trustees on May 19 during a special board meeting. It is a state funded program created by House Bill 3 to recognize and financially reward highly effective teachers.  “TEA has approved GISD’s TIA Cohort C System application. This means that we will begin collecting data during the 2020-21 school year in order to identify teachers eligible for a TIA designation,” Caddell said. view article arw

If passed, Carthage ISD’s proposed $12 million bond would provide money for maintenance and technology needs while keeping the tax rate the same.  School officials on Monday stressed another fact: It’d keep district taxpayer money in the district instead of sending it to Austin under the recapture program — otherwise known as the “Robin Hood” law. view article arw

Budget cuts meant skimpier caches of protective equipment, and Texas' chronic shortage of public health workers has made the response more difficult, experts said.  In the spring, as public health officials were beginning to see the novel coronavirus spreading in Texas, Danny Updike had bad news and good news for health care workers in the San Angelo region where he works in emergency response.  The bad news was that the pandemic had brought a sudden shortage of masks, gowns, gloves and sanitizer as demand soared and imports from China ground to a halt. Prices on the private market were skyrocketing, and most of what remained in the shipping container that housed the region’s modest cache of personal protective equipment had expired after years of budget cuts prevented new purchases. Rubber parts were disintegrated, elastic bands rotted. view article arw

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – One week after virtual classes began, Dallas ISD Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa said the district has thousands of fewer students than it projected.  “We’re still 13,000 to 14,000 short of what we were expecting and so that is a number that is concerning to me.” view article arw

The first glimpse of Dallas ISD’s enrollment in the COVID-19 era is coming into focus, and it isn’t good.  The district, which started virtual classes on Sept. 8, is missing nearly 15,000 students from its original projections for the 2020-21 school year. It’s a gap that — if not rectified — could result in the loss of tens of millions of dollars for DISD.  At stake is state funding that is largely tied to average daily attendance. A significant decrease in such funds would wreak havoc on this year’s $1.64 billion general operating budget, which is based on those original enrollment assumptions.  On Friday, Dallas recorded an total enrollment of 135,504, its best number by far over its first four days of classes. But that figure is about 12% lower than the district’s expected enrollment of 152,472.  District officials — which declined multiple requests for comment on Monday — foreshadowed poor enrollment numbers last week, when the district started online instruction with some hiccups. view article arw

Expenses are piling up for school districts trying to combat COVID-19. In Austin ISD they've spent more than $24 million on added costs related to the virus.  According to district officials, technology and personal protective equipment is where a lot of the money has gone.  Education Austin says the funds the district is spending is nothing to frown upon.  "I would say that, yes, my goodness we have invested $24 million to keep people safe and we're excited about that. We're proud of that," says Ken Zarafis with Education Austin. view article arw

Leander ISD student enrollment decreased by 1.71% from 2019-20 to 2020-21. Student, teacher and district data from the 2019-20 school year is analyzed in the September issue of the Community Impact Newspaper Cedar Park-Leander edition. Here is data for LISD and neighboring ISDs. view article arw

The first glimpse of Dallas ISD’s enrollment in the COVID-19 era is coming into focus, and it isn’t good. The district, which started virtual classes on Sept. 8, is missing nearly 15,000 students from its original projections for the 2020-21 school year. It’s a gap that — if not rectified — could result in the loss of tens of millions of dollars for DISD. view article arw

A news paper from economists Eric Hanushek of Stanford University and Ludger Woessmann of the University of Munich presents a sobering prediction of how school closures could impact the U.S. economy for the next 80 years. The paper estimates that the shutdowns could ultimately lead to losses ranging from $14.2 trillion for a third of the school year to almost $28 trillion for two-thirds. view article arw

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston ISD's first day of school on Tuesday was missing about 68,000 students, though, that number improved each of the following two days.  In all, 140,102 students logged on for the first day, which was highlighted by connectivity challenges as well as existing issues with equipping every child with devices. By Wednesday, about 48,000 students were absent, and then 41,000 on Thursday.   By comparison, the school district last year was missing 59,000 students on the first day, and then 32,000 on the day after.    (11) view article arw

The Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District Board of Trustees recently approved the budget for the 2020-2021 school year, raising employee salaries while leaving the tax rate unchanged. It marks the ninth consecutive year the Board has increased pay for approximately 4,800 full-time employees. view article arw

The Lufkin ISD Board of Trustees set the 2020-21 budget in a special meeting over Zoom on Monday.  The budget is $78,256,520 with 55% going to instructional costs and 11% to plant maintenance and operations costs.  A public hearing to set the tax rate will be held on Sept. 17.  “The special meeting was called for the board to approve the budget before the Sept. 1 deadline,” Superintendent Lynn Torres said. “The public hearing will come later to approve the tax rate. The board has done a great job ensuring that the district is financially secure.” view article arw

Marshall ISD trustees on Monday unanimously adopted a balanced budget for the 2020-21 school year, included in which is a raise for some district staff.  Marshall ISD trustees adopted a balanced $47.6 million budget that includes a 4 percent pay raise for administrators and a 2 percent pay raise for auxiliary staff. Teachers previously received a 4 percent pay raise earlier this year.  The district, which currently employees about 846 employees, was able to adopt a balanced budget and include the raises thanks to a higher amount of state revenue coming into the district than previously projected, Marshall ISD {span}Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance Susie Byrd said. view article arw

The Arlington school district is asking voters to approve a property tax rate increase of 8.84 cents per $100 of property value, the district announced in a news release on Friday evening. This property tax increase would mean the property tax bill on the average house, appraised at $208,985, would increase by $162.73 annually.  If approved, the district expects the tax rate increase to raise an additional $56 million annually, according to a news release from the district. view article arw

Little Elm ISD expects to propose a decrease in the tax rate for the 2020-21 school year.  During a Board of Trustees budget workshop Aug. 17, Chief Financial Officer Grant Anderson said the proposed tax rate would be $1.0236 per $100 valuation on the maintenance and operations (M&O) side and $0.47 on the debt service side for a total proposed tax rate of $1.4936. This would be a drop from the current year’s rate of $1.5383. view article arw

Coppell ISD projects deficit

August 2808:25 AM

Coppell ISD’s estimated tax rate for the 2020-21 budget fell slightly, but the district could face a deficit of nearly $7 million. Diana Sircar, the district’s chief financial officer, during Tuesday’s Board of Trustees meeting, said that the estimated revenue for the 2020-21 school year came in at $154 million with expenses surpassing $161 million, resulting in a possible deficit of $7.2 million. view article arw

With the beginning of a new fiscal year approaching, the Copperas Cove ISD board of trustees will discuss and potentially adopt the budget and tax rate for fiscal year 2021 during a special board meeting Thursday evening.   The proposed budget for 2020-2021 has an estimated expenditure total of $78,376,306, which is lower than the actual expenditures from 2019-2020, a report on the district website shows.   According to the report, the actual expenditures for 2019-2020 totaled $85,485,544.  The current tax rate, adopted last year, is $1.06835 per $100 valuation in the general operating fund and $0.08130 per $100 valuation in the debt service fund. view article arw

The Grapevine-Colleyville ISD board of trustees approve a lower tax rate for fiscal year 2020-21 when compared with last year’s rate. The rate of $1.3031 per $100 valuation comes in at $0.0236 less than the FY2019-20 rate. This lower shaves $90 off annual property tax bills for the average homeowner within the district. view article arw

The Lewisville ISD Board of Trustees on Monday approved its 2020-21 budget, though approval of a tax rate will come later.  Mark Youngs, LISD's chief financial officer, said the district will approve its tax rate in September once certified tax rolls from the appraisal district are available.  LISD's general fund budget for the 2020-21 school year is expected to include $530.7 million in projected revenue and $543.1 million in expenditures for an estimated deficit of $12.4 million.  A big chunk of LISD's spending is going to the state. LISD's recapture payment is projected to be $32.4 million, which is $13.8 million more than the 2019-20 recapture payment. It was $30 million in 2018-19.  “This has gone back up to where it was two years ago,” Youngs said. “House Bill 3 helped last year. It's not helping next year.” view article arw

Long-term funding for local school districts facing budget deficits this school year because of the coronavirus pandemic remains in question, despite the addition of federal relief money easing the process in the short term.  McLennan County’s two largest school districts plan to dip into their fund-balance reserves to fill expected budget deficits for the 2020-21 school year, while lowering their tax rates partly because of school finance reform law passed last year that caps how much districts could receive in property tax revenue.  The entire state is facing a potential budget deficit of about $4.6 billion at the end of the 2020-21 biennium, “a substantial downward revision” from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts’ previously projected surplus of $2.89 billion, according to a letter Comptroller Glenn Hegar sent to state officials July 20 view article arw

The Lewisville ISD Board of Trustees on Monday approved its 2020-21 budget, though approval of a tax rate will come later.  Mark Youngs, LISD's chief financial officer, said the district will approve its tax rate in September once certified tax rolls from the appraisal district are available.  LISD's general fund budget for the 2020-21 school year is expected to include $530.7 million in projected revenue and $543.1 million in expenditures for an estimated deficit of $12.4 million. view article arw

For most of the last fiscal year, Montgomery ISD board of trustees members have struggled to fund the district while being mindful of a looming budget shortfall, at times furrowing their brows over items that are not completely necessary, such as approving teacher stipends. But through concerted efforts by school officials, the district has reduced its predicted $2.8 million shortfall for FY 2020-21 to a nearly balanced budget as of mid-August. view article arw