FISD Chief Financial Officer Kimberly Smith updated the board of trustees on the 2020-21 budget at a May 13 special meeting. The board will vote on the budget at a June 22 special meeting.
The board’s first budget workshop was in January, but Smith said the pandemic has changed the district’s outlook on the 2020-21 budget.
“We also did not anticipate in January that we would be entering into a recession and that the state would be expecting significant budget shortfalls for the next biennium,” she said.
A cut to Texas public education will be a likely result of the pandemic, Smith said, as there will be an increased need for public health support from the state.
“The two biggest parts of the state’s budget are education and health and human services,” she said. “If there’s a greater need for public health support, they’re going to have to take the money from somewhere in order to pay for that, and education is the next biggest piece of the pie.”
Enrollment is the first consideration FISD makes when crafting a budget and financial plan, Smith said. For the 2020-21 budget, she said the district is operating under a low enrollment growth scenario instead of a moderate growth scenario.
“Because of COVID-19, there is somewhat of a likelihood that we may see a little bit of a slowdown in enrollment growth if people aren’t moving,” Smith said.
The district is projecting the enrollment of over 2,100 additional students next school year, she said.
In the 2020-21 budget plan, Smith said she decreased FISD’s estimates of local revenue by around $1.25 million in direct response to district estimates of revenue lost due to COVID-19.
“We’re not collecting as much revenue at this time of the year as we normally would,” she said.
However, Smith said the estimated decrease in local revenue will be offset by an increase in federal revenue from FISD’s Medicaid claiming program. Historically, she said, FISD has built in about $2.5 million for the program’s revenue, and the program brought in more revenue than that.
“I went ahead and added $2 million to that estimate, which really offsets the loss of local revenue in this plan,” she said.
Additionally, the district has other tools in place to balance its budget, Smith said, with one being FISD’s fund balance, which works as a rainy day fund.
“Fund balance is definitely a tool for us to help balance budgets in a time of economic crisis, which this is,” she said.
Adding staff and increasing compensation for FISD employees are still in the plans for the 2020-21 budget, Smith said.
“We have no intention of furloughing employees,” she said.
The district will likely get more answers regarding cuts to public education during the state legislative session in January 2021, Smith said.
“I think that’s good news about the timing of this because we’re not looking to be in a position where we might fall significantly behind by making some of these decisions,” she said. “We can easily adjust next year if it’s not as dire as we’re anticipating it’s going to be."