The Leander ISD board of trustees approved the district’s fiscal year 2024-25 budget at a June 17 meeting.

The approved budget includes a nearly $13.1 million shortfall in the general operating fund, a $1.31 million shortfall in the child nutrition fund, and a balanced budget in the debt service fund.

The breakdown

The district’s general operating fund budget has $448.5 million in revenues and $460.36 million in expenditures. Additionally, $1.23 million was transferred to other district funds, resulting in a $13.09 million shortfall.

The FY 2024-25 shortfall is more than twice as large as the $6.5 million shortfall adopted by the board for FY 2023-24, which has since been reduced to $5.27 million, according to district documents.

The FY 2024-25 shortfall falls within the district’s budget parameter—set at 3% of revenues—by about $18,000.

About 85% of the general operating budget is reserved for payroll. This includes a 2.5% compensation increase for all staff totaling $8.13 million and 91 new net positions totaling $6.44 million.

The budget includes 12 new positions for the district’s newly launched police department as well as additional prekindergarten, Early College High School and special education positions.

The district will pay almost $11.5 million in local property taxes back to the state through a process known as recapture.

Also of note

LISD is projected to adopt a tax rate of $1.0869 per $100 valuation—a 28% decrease since FY 2018-19. In 2023, Texas lawmakers passed Senate Bill 2, which further compresses school districts' tax rates.

Next fiscal year, a household with an average market value of $628,165 will pay $4,635 in property taxes to LISD, which is $109 less than in FY 2023-24, according to district documents.

How we got here

The $13.09 million shortfall comes as the district has faced several cuts to state and federal funding plus new state mandates:Since 2019, the basic allotment of state funding per student has remained unchanged while operating costs have grown due to inflation. District officials have expressed frustration over not receiving sufficient state funding despite the Texas Legislature having a multibillion-dollar surplus in 2023.

Additionally, the district has seen an increase in students transferring out of the district to attend charter schools over the past decade as its enrollment growth slows.

In January, the district initially projected a $20 million budget shortfall, which was then reduced to $15 million. The district further reduced the shortfall by making $900,000 in cuts from department budgets and removing 20 bus driver positions from the budget that were not needed, Chief Financial Officer Pete Pape said.