The Argyle ISD board of trustees discussed the upcoming fiscal school year budget at their June 22 regular meeting. Along with boards and educators across the state, AISD is awaiting word from Austin about how lawmakers will deal with the education budget.

The background

“There wasn’t really anything—or not much of anything—that occurred for us as far as school finance legislation,” AISD Chief Financial Officer Liz Stewart told trustees, adding a special session could occur as late as September, if there is one.

Additionally, Stewart said, the board might not be able to pass a tax rate in August if lawmakers are still considering making a change in the maintenance and operations tax rate compression.

What you need to know

The board will have a budget update July 17 before it adopts the budget Aug. 21. Certified property values will be released July 25. Preliminary numbers from the Denton Central Appraisal District show a 34% increase in certified values, Stewart said.

The budget is based on current law, Stewart said in her presentation to the board. She noted the basic allotment has not increased since 2019. The basic allotment of $6,160 is based on student attendance and not student enrollment, Stewart said later in an email.

“[You] have seen the inflation that’s happened since then,” she said. “Just a reminder—schools are still funded at a stagnant amount of 2019 funding.”

As explained on the Texas Education Agency website, the basic allotment is the “legislatively mandated apportionment of funds from the general revenue funds that goes to each school district to provide a basic level of education for the district’s residents.”

Diving in deeper

Stewart said AISD received the formula transition grant, and without any legislative action, it will lose money when the grant runs out in fiscal year 2024-25.

As explained by the Texas School Coalition, formula transition grants, or FTGs, are funds provided by the state to ensure all districts receive a 3% increase in per-student funding. Argyle was one of 100 school districts to receive these grants. The Legislature approved the FTGs in House Bill 3 school finance reforms in 2019. The grants went to districts that would otherwise see little or no increase under the new HB 3 school finance system, the TSC reported.

AISD needs to be at least at the funding level it was in 2019, she said.

Stewart added it was important for trustees to talk to lawmakers in Austin about its funding challenges, especially if inaction occurs when FY 2024-25 arrives.

Also of note

At the meeting, trustees approved compensation increases by 6-0 vote—with board President Sam Slaton recusing himself.

The passing of this vote will have an impact of $1.3 million for FY 2023-24; the overall costs include pay and benefits, such as for the Teachers Retirement System and the Medicare tax. Teachers and librarians will receive a 3% market general pay increase, which is equal to $1,900, along with a 3% midpoint market increase for all other employees.

Level I aide pay will increase to $15 an hour, while Level II aide pay will increase to $16 per hour, and student nutrition starting pay will also increase to $15 an hour. Level II aides have some experience already as a Level I aide and have some college credits, according to information from the TEA. Aides provide classroom assistance.