Editor's note: the budgeted shortfalls for fiscal years 2024-25, 2025-26 and 2026-27 with a 2% pay increase have been updated to reflect new information from Chief Financial Officer Chris Scott. A $3.3 million shortfall in FY 2024-25, $3.8 million shortfall in FY 2025-26 and $4.1 million shortfall in FY 2026-27 were previously reported.

On track with its budget calendar, the Eanes ISD board of trustees approved its 2024-25 compensation plan with a 2% pay increase for staff during its May 21 meeting.

The vote also includes maintaining the district’s health benefits contribution of $473 per month and, as recommended by the Texas Association of School Boards, approves targeted pay increases for specific pay groups.

The breakdown

With the 2% staff pay increase, the district is budgeting a $2.2 million shortfall for fiscal year 2024-25, Chief Financial Officer Chris Scott said. With a 2% increase in FY 2025-26 and FY 2026-27, Scott budgeted a $2.5 million shortfall and $4.7 million shortfall, respectively.

In line with TASB’s recommendations, the compensation plan includes pay increases for noncertified employees or hourly support staff, substitute compensation, district stipends, and supplemental pay rates.

The item also included a potential one-time payment of $1,000 for employees who work four hours or more per day and $500 for employees who work less than four hours per day; however, the board did not approve this motion.

“I would love to give our staff more because we know that they deserve more,” trustee Heather Sheffield said. “We can always see how things are going; if we have any other efficiencies or any other amazing luck comes to us or the [Texas Legislature] acts in a way that we aren’t expecting, then we can revisit a bonus at any time.”

What else?

Through end-of-year budget analyses, Scott said they found the district was spending more on contracted services—mostly within special education—than what was budgeted, so an $800,000 increase for these services is expected in FY 2024-25.

“This is in hard-to-staff areas where we often have to use contracted services, and unfortunately, you pay a premium when you have to go that route,” Scott said. “I would hope that we’ll get to the point where we can hire all the staff we need without going to contracted services, but the reality is I don’t think we’re going to be there, at least not next year.”

During the meeting, the board also approved increasing the solar photovoltaic panel installation budget from the 2023 bond, as recommended by the bond oversight committee. The $2.6 million increase brings the price of the project to $9.2 million and will increase annual energy production from 4.9 million kilowatt-hours per year to 6.6 million kWh per year.

As it relates to the budget, Scott said the district can anticipate $330,000 in energy savings in FY 2024-25 and $660,000 in energy savings in each subsequent year, up from $492,000 with the project's original budget.

While it has not yet been granted to the district, Scott added the district will receive $270,000 for the second round of the Safety and Security Grant, which will be used to offset a portion of police salaries in 2024-25.

Stay tuned

The board is expected to adopt its FY 2024-25 general fund, debt service and child nutrition budgets at its June 18 meeting.