Carroll ISD is preparing its budget for fiscal year 2019-20 under House Bill 3, which Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law June 11.
HB 3 is lauded by lawmakers as a monumental step in school finance reform, according to The Texas Tribune, Community Impact Newpsaper’s reporting partner. It includes about $6.5 billion in new public education spending, plus about $5.1 billion devoted to lowering Texans’ property tax bills.
Under the new law, CISD would have to lower its maintenance and operations tax rate by $0.07, said Scott Wrehe, the assistant superintendent for financial services. Based on HB 3, the district’s tax rate would decrease from $1.38 per $100 taxable value to $1.31 per taxable value.
This means CISD would receive about $6 million less in local property tax collections, according to preliminary budget calculations.
But budget calculations also show CISD’s recapture payment to the state would be lowered by nearly $7.8 million. Property-wealthy districts make these payments to be distributed to property-poor districts in Texas under the “Robin Hood” plan.
CISD would also receive funding for student transportation from the state, Wrehe said. Currently, families pay for transportation services.
Overall, the school district is expecting $1.8 million in additional available funding as a result of HB 3 and current projections, Wrehe said. But preliminary budget projections also point to a $1.2 million budget deficit.
Wrehe said this could be offset by various savings, unfilled positions and fund balance money.
HB 3 also mandates pay raises for teachers, librarians, nurses and counselors, prioritizing those who have worked in their school districts for more than five years. But CISD has yet to calculate this. It will do so later in the budget process.
“There’s still a lot of uncertainty at this time,” Wrehe said. “But hopefully by the time we come back in July, things will be a little bit clearer.”
The CISD school board is set to adopt its budget for FY 2020 in August and will set the tax rate at a later date in September, he said.