Following adjustments to Bastrop ISD's planned budget for fiscal year 2024-25, a $188,000 shortfall remains, officials said at the April 16 board meeting. The adjustments follow funding changes that left the district with a $7.8 million shortfall under the previously planned budget.

The budget is based on a total revenue of $128 million expected for the 2024-25 year.

What happened

The 88th Texas Legislature failed to pass a funding increase bill, leaving Texas school districts with the same basic allotment as in 2019, despite inflation.

The expiration of federal COVID-19 recovery funds known as Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief as well as over $400,000 lost in federal Medicaid reimbursement funding have also impacted the budget, officials said.
Current situation

In response to the reduced funds, district departments have been asked to reduce their budgets by 15%. Budget cuts would also impact Multi-Tiered Systems of Support coaches and social worker programs in the district.

“These kids need these services, and I am painfully aware of that,” board member Pricilla Ruiz said.

Teachers and parents voiced concerns about the reduction of behavioral services as well as gifted and talented programs to accommodate the budget at the April 16 school board meeting.

“Basically, we’re cutting programs that will help to prepare our students to be successful members of society and offering the bare minimum, which is against what the district stands for: the future,” BISD parent Kayla Russell said at the April 16 meeting.

On the bright side

BISD attendance rates are up, which will have a positive impact on state funding coming into the district, Chief Financial Officer Dina Edgar said at the April 16 school board meeting. The district has a projected average daily attendance of 11,915 for the 2024-25 school year—an over 3% increase from this school year.

“We started out with a disadvantage, but we’re faring as well if not better than most districts that have a better advantage over us,” Edgar said.

A return to prepandemic attendance levels would result in an $2 million increase in funding for the district, Edgar said at the meeting.

Looking ahead

The proposed FY 2024-25 budget will be presented May 21 followed by a public hearing for budget adoption June 18.

The district’s ninth and 10th elementary schools have been approved in the 2023 bond. The district plans to delay the opening of one school by a year to stagger the strain of startup costs on the annual budget, school board President Ashley Mutschink said at the meeting.