Editor's note: the name of the Eanes ISD Board President has been corrected to James Spradley, not John Havenstrite, who was the former president.

Student enrollment, Medicaid service reimbursements, and salary and benefit increases in Eanes ISD are all projected to decline in fiscal year 2024-25, per a hearing on the preliminary budget.

Chief Financial Officer Chris Scott presented the Eanes ISD board of trustees with the preliminary budget during a special meeting Jan. 9.

Breaking it down

Scott’s initial budget projections for FY 2024-25 include:
  • A projected shortfall of $4.5 million, up from $1.3 million in FY 2023-24
  • A 3% salary and benefits change, down from 5% in FY 2023-24
  • A maintenance and operations, or M&O, tax rate of $0.7637 per $100 valuation, down $0.0043 from FY 2023-24
Scott also presented the board with his budget assumptions, which included:
  • The 2023 legislative session’s tax roll update will decrease revenue by approximately $3 million from earlier district projections.
  • Statewide changes to the School Health and Related Services reimbursement program will decrease its revenue by $415,000 per year.
  • Investment revenue will decrease by at least $800,000, based on the December Federal reserve meeting
  • The taxable value growth will decrease from 8% to 3%—decreasing revenue by $500,000—based on December real estate market data from the Austin Board of Realtors, which showed a slowing residential housing market.
“The last couple of years we’ve seen a lot of things go our way,” Scott said. “That’s not what we’re seeing right now.”

Scott also projected an enrollment of 7,627 students in 2024-25, down from 7,732 in 2023-24.

However, the Westlake High School class of 2024 started with 484 students in its kindergarten class and ended with 713 students in its senior class—a growth of 47.3%, which Scott said is an unusual pattern for public school districts.

He noted a total district enrollment of 8,000 students would more efficiently use the district’s facilities and personnel.

“If we were able to maintain a relatively stable kindergarten [and] first grade class—we think we can kind of manufacture our enrollment to get to that 8,000 level by using our transfer program,” Scott said.

Notable quote

Board President James Spradley said financial shortfalls are not due to mismanagement on the district's part.

“We are on a fixed income, and our income comes from the state,” Spradley said. “These are problems that are external. This is not, 'Eanes is unique to this, and we’ve done something wrong.' ... This is a poorly managed ability by the state to fund public education, in my opinion. I don't want to be too political, but [the Texas Legislature] got very tied up this summer on deciding how to spend public money on private education."

Looking ahead

The board will make a number of budgeting decisions in the coming months, including:
  • May: approve the FY 2024-25 compensation plan
  • June: adopt the FY 2024-25 budget and hold a tax rate hearing
  • August or September: adopt the FY 2024-25 tax rates