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

The Danbury ISD school board adopted the 2019-20 budget and lowered the tax rate by 13 cents, acting Superintendent Sherry Phillips said. With House Bill 3 restructuring how school funds are allocated, the school board was able to lower the tax rate from $1.17 per $100 of appraised property value to $1.07, Phillips said. view article arw

James Galbraith, a Lake Travis ISD special education aide, said he is used to working more than one job. He works for the school district during the day, and holds down a night job closer to where he lives in Austin. “I manage and wait tables at a local Austin restaurant about 20-30 hours per week,” he said. “I’ve always worked a lot, so it’s not a big deal, but it does tend to wear you down.” view article arw

Every year school districts have to create a budget to serve the district’s needs. This year, staff also had to consider changes made by House Bill 3, the newest legislation in school finance in Texas. HB 3 includes more money from the state for teacher pay but also limits how much districts can rely on property taxes.  While Alvin, Friendswood and Pearland ISDs all benefited from the bill in some way, each district was hurt in another. All districts will also have to figure out how to work with a lower tax rate, as the bill requires. However, the goal of decreasing reliance on local taxpayers is for the state to shoulder more of the financial burden, said state Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood. view article arw

Leaders from Richardson’s two school districts met with the community Sept. 11 to discuss the state of public education.  The annual State of the District address is organized and hosted by the Richardson Chamber of Commerce. Plano ISD Superintendent Sara Bonser and Richardson ISD Superintendent Jeannie Stone answered questions about their respective districts in a conversation moderated by chamber President and CEO Bill Sproull. view article arw

Top D.C. education officials knew for months about safety issues plaguing a charter school that serves some of the city’s most vulnerable children but did not force changes, public records and interviews with school employees show.  Students at Monument Academy Public Charter School fought during the school day, routinely destroyed school property and simply left campus without permission. Complaints poured into the city agency charged with overseeing the high-profile school, and some staff members reported to their superiors that they felt unsafe. Some child advocates and parents said they thought the school was dangerous, too. view article arw

Wichita Falls ISD’s swap & drop plan to bump down the district’s tax rate and bump up state funding appears to have hit a roadblock in House Bill 3, according to the new law and to materials provided by state officials.  The new law clarifies a prohibition on “swap & drops” such as WFISD's, according to the Texas Education Agency. In addition, any district that set a tax rate before HB 3 must re-adopt a rate to comply with its new requirements.   view article arw

The Longview ISD board of trustees could adopt a bond refunding program at its Monday meeting. In 2007, district voters approved an almost $267 million bond package. In 2016, the board refinanced the bond to save taxpayers about $5.5 million. view article arw

Garland ISD recently received the Texas Comptroller Transparency Star Award for Traditional Finances. Chief Financial Officer Brent Ringo said this is the first time the district has received this award. “This award is from the state Comptroller’s Office that establishes guidelines for financial transparency for public entities – school districts, cities and counties, and there’s quite a lengthy checklist that must be done, and it involves updating the website monthly that provides information to our stakeholders that is easily accessible in a digital format,” he said. view article arw

Omar Garcia with BOK Financial Securities has a new release (Release 9 dated 09/5/2019) 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

A newly adopted $20,397,824 budget will provide raises for all Rusk ISD employees, and “this year, especially for the teaching staff, (it) is probably the largest increase ever approved,” said Superintendent Grey Burton. “We are extremely excited to provide this type of increase for the staff. Historically in the 'school business' you hear the term 'cost of living' increase or something to that effect when describing employee raises,” he said. “We decided this year, with the additional funds being allocated from the state, to make a substantial investment in our staff. We want our folks to be able to see the difference in their paycheck. When people receive a five to eight or ten thousand dollar increase they will definitely see it.” view article arw

The Lago Vista Independent School District adopted the 2019-2020 school year budget at a special meeting on Thursday. Lago Vista ISD also adopted the proposed tax rates for the 2019-2020 school year. Lago Vista ISD Director of Finance Jason Stoner went over the proposed budget for the 2019-2020 school year with the board. “I feel confident and solid about where we are at with the budget, especially with our increased enrollment,” Stoner said. view article arw

Millions of dollars in additional funding is coming to Central Texas school districts this year to help pay for equipment and other resources in technology classes. Round Rock Independent School District estimates they’ll bring in an additional $7 million from the state for tech app courses after the legislature changed the way it funds the career-based classrooms. The money will help support students like Kritika Dhakal, a senior at McNeil High School who wants to be a computer scientist. view article arw

Gary ISD trustees adopted a $4,971,069 balanced budget, a jump of about $800,000 from last year’s $4.1 million budget that will allow more money to be put into instruction and maintenance. Trustees also adopted an effective tax rate of $1.43 per $100 valuation, down 7 cents from last year. The tax rate includes a maintenance and operations rate of 97 cents and a debt service rate of 46 cents. The decrease in tax rate comes from the M&O side, with the I&S side remaining the same as last year. view article arw

Residents of the Chico school district will see a tax rate decrease for the 2019/20 fiscal year. At Monday’s meeting, the school board adopted a total tax rate of $1.17804 per $100 of taxable value. That represents a nearly 10.5-cent reduction from last year’s rate of $1.283. On the maintenance and operations portion of the tax rate – used to fund the part of the budget that pays for expenditures such as teacher salaries – the tax rate was reduced from $1.04 to $0.97. Like all public school districts in the state, Chico was required to compress the tax rate due to school funding changes outlined in House Bill 3 passed this year by state legislators. view article arw

Adding 17 jobs and salary increases for current employees, Decatur ISD expects its budget to grow by $2.9 million for 2019/20. The district’s trustees approved the $33.9 million spending plan for the 2019/20 fiscal year Thursday morning. Along with the budget, the board approved a tax rate of $1.21 per $100 of taxable value, which is a 7-cent cut from last year. view article arw

Athletic spending, teacher pay and a future tax ratification election were discussed Wednesday evening at a budget workshop hosted by Beckville ISD  The 2019-20 proposed budget is $683,000, which is $3,000 less than last year’s budget. This year’s tax rate, which Superintendent Devin Tate said was set by the state, will be 97 cents per $100 valuation — all of which is entirely on the maintenance and operations side of the budget because the district has no debt. view article arw

The Nederland Independent School District approved its 2019-20 budget and tax rate this week at a special Board of Trustees meeting. The board adopted a tax rate of $1.33 and an overall budget of $48.7 million. “The 2019-2020 budget that was adopted is driven by the district’s goals and strategic plan,” Superintendent Robin Perez said in an issued statement. view article arw