Georgetown ISD looks to add 38 employees, but budget and staffing decisions await legislative guidance

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Georgetown ISD is considering adding 38 full-time employees in its 2019-20 school year but is waiting for guidance from the 86th Texas legislative session to see what its budget will look like.

The GISD board of trustees was updated on district staffing needs during a budget workshop meeting March 19.

Staffing options presented to the board include adding 15 full-time equivalents to elementary schools, seven FTEs to middle schools and nine FTEs to high schools. GISD Chief Finance Officer Pam Sanchez and Lisa Napper, assistant superintendent of human resources, said the district wants to add campus staffing in teachers and paraprofessionals, including in special education and dyslexia.

Sanchez and Napper also suggested the board consider adding an assistant principal to Purl, Carver and Mitchell elementary schools due to enrollment and demographic needs.

“I wanted to put out there that we are seeing significant needs at Carver just because of pure numbers, … [and]Purl and Mitchell are not as big as Carver but they have a higher percentage of low socioeconomic and [English as a Second Language] students,” Napper said.

GISD has a student-to-teacher ratio of 13.8.

The decisions will, however, be based on the district’s budget, which remains unknown as the Texas Legislature continues to iron out school finance reform.

At the start of the session in January, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen all declared property tax relief and school finance reform as their top priorities, which would include a $5,000 across-the-board teacher pay raise.

How both priorities would look has since changed.

The Texas House Public Education Committee passed House Bill 3, a $9 billion school finance and property tax reform bill, on March 19 but removed the educator merit pay provision. The initial version sought to give districts money to provide raises to top-tier teachers through a rating system.

The state Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 3 on March 5 that would put $4 billion toward a $5,000 raise for full-time classroom teachers and librarians.

“Once we get the substitute language, our association that we work with closely—the Texas Association of School Business Officials—will be providing a [budget]model that I can use to see how that will impact our funding for next year,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez said the model will allow her to get a side-by-side analysis of how the district’s budget may be affected.

District funding relies on tax revenue and state funding. However, the district is unsure of how the budget formula will change because of a variety of factors. These include a proposed property tax cap with the intent to offer property tax relief, a possible school tax rate mandate lower than what it is currently set to, a possible across-the-board teacher pay raise and a debate over what percentage of public education the state should fund.

GISD Superintendent Fred Brent said the district will begin looking into different budget scenarios until decisions are made.

“The problem is they are saying they are going to do all of this for public education but they can’t explain where the money is going to come from,” said GISD Superintendent Fred Brent. “So we’re going to keep moving forward.”

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Ali Linan
Ali Linan began covering Georgetown for Community Impact Newspaper in 2018. Her reporting focuses on education and Williamson County. Ali hails from El Paso and graduated from Syracuse University in 2017.
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