A first look at Plano ISD’s preliminary budget for the 2020-21 school year shows a roughly $1.6 million decrease in department budgets.  This follows a $10 million budget cut from the previous year, said Randy McDowell, chief financial officer for the district, who presented the budget update to the board of trustees April 21.  The budget currently reflects a typical school year rather than one with online learning. That could change down the line, Superintendent Sara Bonser said during the virtual work session.  PISD closed its campuses and moved to online learning in mid-March. The district will continue online learning through the end of the 2019-20 school year. view article arw

If it lasts, this week’s plunge in oil prices could hit the Texas economy in ways that make it much harder for state and local governments to help the state’s residents. It’s part of a double whammy on the state economy that started with the pandemic-driven dive in hospitality and retail that, in turn, will be reflected in much lower-than-expected sales tax revenues to local and state governments. view article arw

The price for a barrel of oil plunged negative Monday for the first time ever as the coronavirus pandemic has kept most of the world at home, forcing oil producers to pay buyers to take crude off their hands.  People are not commuting or traveling, leading to a devastating decline in global oil demand, and the price of oil has crashed at a rapid rate. One barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude cost in the $60 range to start the year. It has dropped more than 160% since.  Down from around $18 a barrel Friday, the price of West Texas Intermediate crude to be delivered in May ended Monday at negative $37.63 a barrel. view article arw

Fitch Ratings has assigned a 'AAA' rating based on the Texas Permanent School Fund (PSF) Guarantee and a 'AA' underlying rating to the following Canyon Independent School District, Texas unlimited tax (ULT) bonds: view article arw

Coronavirus already has wreaked havoc on school districts — closing campuses for the remainder of the school year, shifting learning online, and exposing a wide digital divide between students who have ready access to the internet and those who do not. And that is only this year.  Next year, even if the restrictions are lifted, the coronavirus still could spark a budget crisis for traditional and charter school districts across Texas.   (22) view article arw

Diana Lucio tries each day to keep her six school-age children academically on track during the novel coronavirus pandemic, despite having only three laptops and no broadband internet in her southwest Houston home.  Still, Lucio knows there is no substitute for all that a school offers: teachers, technology, time with friends. It’s why, in Lucio’s ideal world, her kids would return to their Houston ISD schools as soon as possible — even if that meant classes ran throughout this summer. view article arw

The pandemic's impact on the Texas economy is a full-on recession, state Comptroller Glenn Hegar said Tuesday. And hard financial decisions will mark the next session of the Texas Legislature.  Early in every economic crisis, the people in charge turn to their financial folks to ask whether things are as bad as they seem.  Answering a question like that is tricky business. You don’t want to overstate things — to cause an economy to shudder just by saying there’s a big chill in the air. And you don’t want to understate the severity of a real problem, prompting people to take it less seriously or to simply ignore it.   (09) view article arw

With the state’s economy staggering from the one-two punch of coronavirus-induced business shutdowns and low oil prices, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said he has been advising state agencies to cut their spending ahead of updated projections for tax revenue that he expects to release this summer.  “Be forewarned that (the new estimate) is probably going to be a revised downward adjustment of several billion dollars,” Hegar said Tuesday during a webcast interview with the Texas Tribune.  He reiterated his view that the Texas economy is in recession, along with the national and global economies, although he said it’s unclear “how deep and how wide” it is going to be.  “To me, it is pretty evident” that the economy has entered a recession, Hegar said, which is defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction.  “Much of the world is shut down,” he said. “You’re going to have a recession. The problem is you just don’t know how far-reaching this is going to be.”  Hegar, essentially the state’s chief financial officer, oversees tax collections and provides lawmakers with revenue forecasts, among other duties. view article arw

Experts are concerned for regions like Houston and the Permian Basin, which might feel the economic effects not only of the pandemic, but also of the low price of oil.  As Texans adjust to life under orders to stay at home during the new coronavirus pandemic — and scramble to cover expenses with incomes that were drastically cut or abruptly shut off — housing and real estate experts say it’s hard to predict what the parallel public health and economic crises will do to home values and sales. A lot depends on how long the twin troubles last. view article arw

Gene V. Glass is one of the nation’s most eminent researchers and statisticians of education. He is a professor emeritus at Arizona State University. He writes: Education Policy Analysis Archives is an open access (free to read) peer-reviewed journal now in its 28th year of continuous publication. EPAA just published an article by David S. Knight (Univ. Washington) and Laurence A. Toenjes (Univ Houston) entitled “Do Charter Schools Receive Their Fair Share of Funding? School Finance Equity for Charter and Traditional Public Schools.” view article arw

This may seem difficult to believe but public school funding has, in some places, never recovered from the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Now, districts and states around the country are facing the prospect of a new financial crisis for public education as a result of the novel coronavirus outbreak.  Insufficient education funding and low teacher pay sparked the 2018 Red for Ed movement, in which teachers, first in Republican-led states, went out on strike to demand more resources for their schools and higher salaries. Some states settled the strikes with promises to pay teachers more money, but now, some of those raises are in jeopardy.  With the economy reeling from the closure of most public life in America due to the coronavirus pandemic, Congress just passed a $2 trillion assistance package that includes about $13.5 billion for public schools.  (03) view article arw

Using the ‘r’ word, Hegar sees no avoiding a recession and predicts the state’s recovery will be slow.  AUSTIN — Texas’ usually buoyant economy has just run over two sharp nails — coronavirus and low oil prices — and the resulting slowdown is dramatic, Comptroller Glenn Hegar said Wednesday.  “There’s no doubt that Texas is going to be in a recession — just like pretty much the rest of the world,” he said. While data showing the scope of the state’s economic contraction won’t be out for another few weeks, Hegar said early signs from counties that collect sales tax on motor vehicle purchases and rentals showed significant declines for a limited part of last month — all that’s been reported so far. view article arw

Local governments facing a fresh budget threat: economic recession  [5 a.m.] While city leaders in Texas are trying to slow down the novel coronavirus pandemic, their financial officers are already warning about the damage a new economic recession will have on local budgets. “We work on the budget year round, and we anticipate even the worst scenarios," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a press conference Tuesday. "This one is even worse than anyone had imagined.” view article arw

HOUSTON — Two Texas oil companies with large footprints in the West Texas oil patch sent a letter Monday to state regulators formally requesting an emergency meeting to consider reducing oil production as demand for oil around the world has collapsed during the new coronavirus pandemic.  The presidents of Pioneer Natural Resources, based in Irving, and Parsley Energy, based in Austin, urged the Texas Railroad Commission — the state’s oil and gas regulatory body — to hold a virtual meeting no later than April 13 “for the purposes of determining the reasonable market demand for oil, whether wasteful production either is occurring or is reasonably imminent, and, if so, the necessary and appropriate proration order to prevent such waste,” the letter read. view article arw

We have a full lineup of news, features and commentary for you this morning, including a dire warning about looming economic challenges for schools already rocked by coronavirus closures, a Q&A with a mom experienced in homeschooling an autistic child and a proposal for reviving the study of current events as the perfect online curriculum at this moment in history.   view article arw

Katy ISD administration presented a staffing report regarding the 2020-21 school year to the board of trustees at its special March 23 meeting.   Brian Schuss, KISD's chief human resources officer, said the district may need up to 499 new campus staff and 106 new campus support staff. These 605 positions are equivalent to 40 growth units, per his presentation. view article arw

Comptroller Glenn Hegar briefed Texas House members on the state's economy and budget Sunday night, saying that while it was too soon for specific forecasts, both are expected to take potentially massive hits in the wake of the new coronavirus pandemic, according to multiple people who were on the conference call. The members-only call, led by House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, was one of state lawmakers' first glimpses of the impact the virus is expected to have on multiple industries, state finances and Texas' largely oil-fed savings account, known as the Economic Stabilization Fund or the rainy day fund. view article arw

With the coronavirus pandemic pushing Bexar County to extend school closures, Southwest Independent School District plans to continue paying its employees. The school board met Tuesday to pass a resolution that gives the superintendent the power to continue to compensate both hourly and salary employees, including teachers, bus drivers, maintenance workers and others. view article arw

Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD officials are preparing for next year’s budget, but without available data from last year’s budget, officials are struggling to make accurate predictions for this year. Tonya Tillman, associate superintendent for business services, said the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) reports have not been updated to include data necessary for House Bill 3 implementation. She said these reports do not reflect many of the new categories that the district will be receiving weighted funding for under HB 3. view article arw

Stifel Economic Update

March 1608:35 AM

Earlier this week the Federal Reserve shocked the markets with an emergency rate cut bringing the Federal funds rate down 50bps to a new, lower range of 1.00% to 1.25%. With the market increasing pressure on the Fed to take action, the Committee determined the time to act was now as opposed to waiting even a mere two weeks until the March FOMC meeting on the 18th. While hardly the silver bullet to protect the domestic economy from any downside risks of contagion from disruptions overseas, the Fed hoped to affirm accommodative financial conditions and, at the very least, boost confidence. view article arw

Plano ISD will continue to pay all regular employees during the upcoming school closures that are intended to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. The board of trustees deliberated for more than two hours Sunday in closed session before approving the employee pay proposal. The resolution passed unanimously with little discussion in the portion of the meeting that was open to the public. view article arw

Earlier this week the Federal Reserve shocked the markets with an emergency rate cut bringing the Federal funds rate down 50bps to a new, lower range of 1.00% to 1.25%. With the market increasing pressure on the Fed to take action, the Committee determined the time to act was now as opposed to waiting even a mere two weeks until the March FOMC meeting on the 18th . While hardly the silver bullet to protect the domestic economy from any downside risks of contagion from disruptions overseas, the Fed hoped to affirm accommodative financial conditions and, at the very least, boost confidence.  view article arw

A half-million dollar fine levied against Katy ISD last year, highlights what some are calling outrageous severance deals for school superintendents across the Lone Star State.  The Texas Education Agency reportedly reduced Katy ISD's state funding after its board approved a $750,000 parachute over two years for former superintendent Lance Hindt. Up in Richardson, a former superintendent is paid tens of thousands just to remain on the payroll.  “For them to say that teachers are the most important thing in the classroom, other than the students of course. Yet, to compensate administrators at that rate, it really doesn't seem to make much sense,” says Melissa Martin with conservative-based Innovative Teachers of Texas. view article arw

Clear Creek ISD’s board of trustees approved $2 million in state funding to provide resources for students in a variety of English Language Arts and English as a Second Language classrooms at the Feb. 24 regular meeting.  Several subject area subcommittees completed the process of reviewing and selecting instructional resources. The subcommittees were made up of teachers—including representatives from English as a Second Language, special education, and technology—and a parent or community representative per committee. Resources were selected for English Language Arts and Reading, grades 9 to 12; English Language Arts Electives; English Learners Language Arts, seventh and eighth grades; and English I and II for Speakers of Other Languages. view article arw

The Katy ISD 2018-19 budget received an unmodified opinion—the highest opinion level that can be given—from accounting firm Whitley Penn LLP.  Audit partner Celina Cereceres presented the audit findings to the board of trustees at the Jan. 20 regular meeting.  According to the presentation, KISD had a total net position of $55.5 million as of Aug. 31. view article arw

The La Joya ISD Board of Trustees voted at a meeting Wednesday to adopt an agreement for an appraised value limitation application submitted by a company proposing to build a $210 million wind farm in the district. Under Chapter 313 of the Texas tax code, companies can request a 10-year tax abatement within reinvestment zones. The abatement is intended to attract industry to the state and create jobs. view article arw

More Longview ISD employees are going to be eligible for incentive payments after the board voted Wednesday to loosen guidelines. The board of trustees gathered for a regular meeting Wednesday, while a meeting of the East Texas Advanced Academies board of trustees, scheduled for the same time at a different location, was canceled soon before the set time. view article arw

Texas pre-K programs are just scraping by after losing millions of dollars last year — and without sustainable funding, they could see greater problems down the line, school officials say. During the 2017 legislative session, lawmakers decided not to fund a $118 million high-quality pre-K grant program that was created in 2015 and championed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. The money had gone to 573 districts and charter schools that pledged to meet measures such as setting a lower student-teacher ratio, avoiding Common Core curricula and reporting student progress to the state. view article arw

Burnet school district officials were probably expecting to get more than two years from the synthetic turf installed at Bulldog Field in 2015, but that didn’t happen and it’s now set the district back $150,000. Burnet Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Keith McBurnett, however, said the district is looking to get $105,000 back from one manufacturer. Last year, officials noticed some turf fibers sticking up higher than others, so they took a closer look, McBurnett said. “To most people, it probably wasn’t noticeable,” he said. “We had all the experts look at the field, and they looked at the backside. It needed to be replaced.” view article arw

On Saturday, voters who live within the Houston ISD will go to the polls to determine how - or if - the district will pay the state millions in "recapture" fees. Whatever voters decide on Proposition 1, the Houston ISD will take a financial hit, officials say. Recapture, and school finance, can be difficult to grasp. To help, here are the answers to some questions about the ballot measure. view article arw

The Round Rock school district awarded $1.9 million in grants to 34 campuses to help foster innovation in schools through programs, models or initiatives that enrich learning. The grants range from $7,500 to $100,000 and support the district’s strategic goal of implementing, enhancing and reinforcing innovative teachings and learning models, according to a district news release. view article arw

Fort Bend ISD is going to begin serving up something different for some students who continually fail to pay for their lunches -- a cold cheese sandwich with a side of milk, and that's not sitting well with some parents. We're not talking about students who qualify for free school meals. But apparently, these repeat offenders have gotten so "forgetful" that it's draining the district's budget by hundreds of thousands of dollars. view article arw

The Garland school district’s $453.8 million budget for 2015-16 passed this week. Here are the highlights: Taxes are going up: There’s a 10-cent per $100 valuation tax increase tied to theNovember 2014 passage of a $455 million bond package. Garland ISD previously had the second-lowest tax rate among 16 districts that tax in Dallas County; the bond will bring that closer to the midpoint. view article arw

The Lampasas Independent School District met Monday to discuss the district’s fiscal year 2016 budget and proposed tax rates. “My idea was still to give everyone a tax break, but to make it 1 cent right now, and we could change it in a year if we need to,” board member Sam Walker said. “I think we are jumping the gun by dropping it 2 cents.” view article arw

Marfa ISD is taking a proactive approach toward its potential Chapter 41 status, which would classify the district as a “rich” school. Chief Financial Officer Victoria Sanchez discussed with the board of trustees at the June 15 meeting five different options they could possibly choose for the Chapter 41 status and heavily stressed that the board should consider each option carefully as three of them would have permanent repercussions. view article arw