Leander ISD is projected to adopt a budget with a $19.8 million shortfall for the 2024-25 fiscal year based on assumptions approved by the board of trustees at a Jan. 18 meeting.

Since its last projections in May, the district is seeing a decrease in revenue due a lower enrollment projections, LISD Chief Financial Officer Pete Pape said. Furthermore, operating costs have increased due to inflation, while decreased student growth has resulted in less staffing costs, according to the presentation.

A closer look

The district expects to receive around $438.5 million in revenues and have $457.1 million in expenditures with a tax rate of $1.0869 per $100 property valuation, according to district documents. The projected shortfall also accounts for LISD transferring almost $1.3 million to other district funds.

The budget assumes the district experiences a moderate growth in enrollment of 43,039 students, a 94% average daily attendance rate and a 7% increase in property values, and pays $11 million in recapture, Pape said.

Overall, the district estimates payroll costs to increase by $15.5 million due to a number of factors, including a 2% salary increase, new police department positions and new schools.

The projected shortfall exceeds the district’s budget parameter—set at 3% of revenues—by $7 million. The budget is in its beginning stage, and district budgets often improve once officials receive better estimates, Pape said. The district may adjust annual salaries and see changes to revenues and interest rates, he said.

Also of note

The ratio of students per teacher decreased in recent years due to additional positions funded by the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, Pape said. However, that funding is set to expire this year, and administration is discussing which positions to maintain, he said.

“I’m very concerned about those numbers that already look like they're raising at middle school and high school levels,” Place 1 board member Trish Bode said about student-to-teacher ratios. “We’re going to have to balance budget ... and then what is the weight we’re putting on our teachers and what’re we asking for our students.”

Stay tuned

District officials will continue to develop the budget until the board takes a vote in June, according to the presentation.