Leander ISD board passes $387M budget with 2% raises, new campus staffing

Leander ISD admin building
Leander ISD's board of trustees approved the budgets in a 6-1 vote with Aaron Johnson in dissent. (Taylor Girtman/Community Impact Newspaper)

Leander ISD's board of trustees approved the budgets in a 6-1 vote with Aaron Johnson in dissent. (Taylor Girtman/Community Impact Newspaper)

Leander ISD’s board adopted a $387.5 million operating general fund budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year June 17. The budget year begins July 1.

About 80% of the budget is for instruction, or goes directly to students, LISD Finance Director Elaine Cogburn said.

The budget includes 2% midpoint staff raises, starting teacher salaries at $50,900, new campus positions at Tarvin Elementary School opening in August, start-up positions for Elementary School No. 29 opening in 2022 and other district expenditures. Fine arts allocations will also equitably increase at elementary and middle school campuses, Cogburn said. The budget does not include coronavirus-related costs or major maintenance.

Projected revenue for 2021-22 totals $368.5 million. The projected total for the current fiscal year is $370.9 million. Local revenue, which drives the budget, were greater than the budget estimated due to tax collections, Cogburn said, and revenue is remaining flat between the years. The state would provide about 21% of the next year’s budget.

“So as the district is able to cover the cost of education locally, the state is pitching in less to fund that cost,” Cogburn said.

The new budget considers a 15.68% increase in the district’s property value growth, 3% student growth, the local homestead exemption, increased local revenue estimates and other revenue factors.

The board approved the budgets in a 6-1 vote with Aaron Johnson in dissent. Johnson said he was concerned about budget deficits.

"I remain concerned about the level of deficit spending and the trend of deficit spending," he said. "So I'm still very concerned about where this budget is landing."

The 2021-22 budget deficit will be about $25.5 million, Cogburn said. But the current 2020-21 budget projected a $31 million deficit and will end with $6.1 million.

“Even though we started out looking very bleak, we’ve been able to turn that around,” Cogburn said. “So hopefully we’ll be able to do the same in the 2021-22 budget.”

The board approves two more budgets in addition to the operational general fund budget. The 2021-22 debt service budget, which reflects the interest and sinking, or I&S, tax rate, will leave $36 million for the early payment for debt at the end of the 2021-22 budget. In the $15.6 million child nutrition budget, there is expected to be a $416,877 surplus budget.

Cogburn said the tax rate is expected to go down about $0.07 to $1.3472. The board will approve the tax rate in August or September.

The board also received a $933.4 million bond recommendation June 17, which included elementary school, middle school, high school and districtwide projects. The deadline for the board to call a Nov. 2 bond election is Aug. 16.
By Taylor Girtman

Reporter, Cedar Park and Leander

Taylor Girtman became the reporter for the Cedar Park-Leander edition in February 2020. Taylor has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Florida.


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