Eanes ISD faces budget constraints heading into 2021-22 school year

Eanes ISD officials began 2021-22 budget planning during a Jan. 26 board meeting. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Eanes ISD officials began 2021-22 budget planning during a Jan. 26 board meeting. (Courtesy Fotolia)

Eanes ISD officials began 2021-22 budget planning during a Jan. 26 board meeting. (Courtesy Fotolia)

The COVID-19 pandemic, disproportionate state funding and uncertain enrollment are hurdles that have created budgetary constraints for Eanes ISD.

This is according to a preliminary fiscal year 2021-22 budget overview held during a Jan. 26 board meeting, in which EISD officials discussed a projected budget shortfall upward of $600,000 for next year.

If not for the national health crisis, the district may have concluded the 2020-21 school year with a budget surplus of about $900,000, according to EISD Chief Financial Officer Chris Scott.

EISD is anticipating closing this year’s budget with a $2.7 million shortfall, which according to Scott was caused by significant revenue declines.

The child nutrition fund is facing a $1.5 million loss due to fewer students on campus, and a large revenue cut was caused by a lack of facility rentals both last school year and in 2020, Scott said.

“Typically, our buildings are used all the time, every weekend,” Scott said. “Our revenue is taking a big hit there, and ultimately that impacts the bottom line."

Ideally, the district would offset the $2.7 million shortfall in the next fiscal year, according to Scott. However, Scott acknowledged actions such as staff reductions are difficult decisions for district leaders to make.

“We were looking at coming in with a $600,000 deficit [in 2021-22] after having a surplus in this year, and now that is not looking like it's going to be the case,” Scott said.

Since March, EISD and surrounding districts have also experienced dips in enrollment due to the pandemic. While precise numbers will not be available until

October, EISD is projecting about 8,152 students next school year compared to 7,970 for the 2020-21 school year.

“We’re really hopeful that as the pandemic comes under control that those enrollment rates will come back up,” Scott said.

Other 2021-22 budget projections include a tax rate of around $1.0853 per $100 of valuation, as well as a regional tax base growth of about 6.1%.

Budget predictions could be influenced by the 87th Texas Legislature, which convened Jan. 12. However, Scott said he and other educational leaders are not expecting additional relief for public school districts.

Furthermore, Texas’ funding system established through House Bill 3 has not provided financial support for EISD in the way it has for other districts, according to EISD officials.

Under HB 3, EISD is one of the largest contributors to the state’s recapture program, which requires school districts with a value per student higher than $6,030 to contribute payments based on their taxable value, according to the Texas Education Agency. The money is collected by Texas’ education fund and redistributed to districts below that threshold.

EISD’s contributions are approaching about $1.5 billion, according to Scott, who added that amounts to about $12,460 per student annually.

Decisions are still left unmade as the district works to compensate for these budget challenges. Staffing rates and compensation will be voted upon by the board in either May or June; however, the preliminary budget assumed a possible 2% compensation increase.

“The board’s primary influence is on the expense side while the primary budget volatility is on the revenue side,” Scott said.
By Amy Rae Dadamo
Amy Rae Dadamo is the reporter for Lake Travis-Westlake, where her work focuses on city government and education. Originally from New Jersey, Amy Rae relocated to Austin after graduating from Ramapo College of New Jersey in May 2019.


Map of plans for the Bee Creek Sports Complex
Travis County awards construction contract for Bee Creek Sports Complex

Progress on the sports complex was previously stalled due to utility planning issues but is set for completion in 2022.

Austin ISD and other districts in Central Texas are waiting for further TEA guidance on mask requirements. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Austin ISD, other Central Texas school districts await TEA guidance on updated mask mandates

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced March 2 that mask mandates and business capacity restrictions will be lifted in Texas.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced March 2 that mask mandates and business capacity restrictions will be lifted in Texas. (Courtesy Office of the Texas Governor)
Gov. Greg Abbott lifts statewide mask mandate, business restrictions in Texas

With vaccine distribution increasing, Gov. Greg Abbott said "people and businesses don't need the state telling them how to operate." Some local officials are pushing back, saying the relaxed restrictions are coming too early.

Homes are expected to continue to sell at record rates in the Lake Travis-Westlake region and the five-county metropolitan statistical area. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Housing inventory in Lake Travis-Westlake region continues to fall

Despite the arrival of new developments, the demand for housing in the Lake Travis-Westlake region and Greater Austin area is at an all-time high, according to the Austin Board of Realtors' January 2021 Central Texas housing report.

A disaster declaration issued by the city is in place to ease damage claims made by area residents, according to Mayor Sandy Cox. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Lakeway City Council extends disaster declaration for Texas winter storm

The disaster declaration eases insurance claims filed to cover storm damage.

Photo of a woman receiving a vaccine
Travis County vaccine providers receive 46,540 doses week of March 1

Seton Medical Center in Austin received the largest allocation this week, with over 14,000 doses.

Beaux Medspa opened in West Lake Hills in February. (Courtesy Beaux Medspa)
Beaux Medspa opens on Bee Caves Road and more business news from the Lake Travis-Westlake region

Here is the most recent business news from the Lake Travis-Westlake area.

Reports surfaced Feb. 22 of dogs falling ill after swimming in Lake Travis. (Community Impact Newspaper Staff)
Blue-green algae toxic to animals found in Hudson Bend area of Lake Travis

Solid organic material was taken for testing from the edge of Travis Landing located on the east side of Hudson Bend. Those samples indicated the presence of algae and decaying algae containing cyanotoxin, which is fatal to dogs and other animals.

A new Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine could help expand vaccination availability in Travis County, according to local health officials. (Courtesy Pexels)
Johnson & Johnson vaccine could mean additional supply, easier distribution rollout in Travis County

If approved, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be a valuable weapon against the ongoing pandemic, according to local health officials.

Snow covers I-45 in Houston during a winter storm that hit Texas the night of Feb. 14. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Legislators probe energy officials over power failures, lack of preparation heading into winter storm

The Texas Legislature held hearings Feb. 25 with energy companies including Oncor Electric Delivery and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas in response to last week’s historic winter storm, which left millions of Texans without electricity for days.