Austin ISD officials said during a board meeting Feb. 23 the district is “on track” to cut the projected budget shortfall of $52 million in half by the end of fiscal year 2023-24.

Current situation

Superintendent Matias Segura said district officials are working to lessen the projected shortfall through the following:
  • Vacancy savings, or costs saved by a staff position that is not filled
  • Managing overtime expenses
  • Monitoring contract expenses
  • Interest earnings
“The Legislature has chosen not to increase public education funding,” Segura said. “And so when we did agree to the $52 million deficit, there were certain things that were unknown at that point.”

Segura was referring to the basic student allotment—the amount school districts receive from the state based on student enrollment and attendance—not increasing. This has not been raised since 2019, and is at $6,160. AISD officials said enrollment is at 72,800, with a 92% attendance rate.

Segura said that because the Legislature didn’t increase this funding, potential cuts—such as staff reductions and increased class sizes—will have to be made alongside any proposed budget increases for FY 2024-25.

During a virtual community meeting on the budget hosted by district officials on Feb. 13, some community members expressed, in regards to cuts, they hope the district would take care before potentially making any related to staff.

Going forward with planning for the budget, Segura said district officials will keep the following in mind:
  • Potentially maintaining the 20% fund balance, as lowering it is “risky” due to decreasing enrollment and inflation
  • Potentially adopting a shortfall greater than $30 million that would put the district at risk of going below the fund balance in FY 2026-27, but decreasing the projected shortfall to $25 million or less would require multiple budget cuts
How we got here

When the AISD board of trustees passed the FY 2023-24 budget in June, the budget included a 7% raise for staff in addition to other pay increases to retain teachers and staff, which contributed to the projected shortfall, Segura said.

What’s next?

This spring, district officials will propose potential investments and cuts for the FY 2024-25 budget as it is being drafted. The AISD board of trustees will vote on the budget in June.

Community conversations surrounding the budget will continue, including a meeting Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. taking place at Eastside Early College High School, 900 Thompson St., Austin.