With lower enrollment projections and little help from the Texas Legislature, CISD is facing a deficit of $4 million-$6 million in its 2023-24 school year budget.

David Johnson, CISD assistant superintendent for financial services, presented a budget planning to CISD board of trustees April 17.

Terms to know: Basic allotment is the mandated funding each district receives to provide an education to its district’s residents, according to the Texas Education Agency. Average daily attendance, also known as ADA, is used to determine the district’s funding. Currently, the basic allotment is $6,160 per student.

In the Legislature: Johnson noted proposals in the 88th legislative session that may impact the budget. Legislative outcomes are anticipated in late May, according to the presentation.
  • House Bill 100 relates to the compensation of public school educators and the public school finance system, including enrollment-based funding, under the Foundation School Program. In 2023-24, the basic allotment would increase approximately 1.5% to $6,250 per student. The bill was filed March 8 and was awaiting committee action as of April 19.
  • Senate Bill 1474 relates to special education in public schools, including the education allotment under the Foundation School Program. This bill would entitle districts a minimum of $500 for each special education evaluation given to students. The bill was fired March 2 and was waiting committee action as of April 19.
In CISD’s legislative priorities, the district sought a 14.5% increase in student funding to offset inflationary increases.

“We really need our legislators to understand how crippling this inflation has been for many school districts in the state of Texas,” board President Cameron Bryan said. “To not raise the basic allotment by a higher percent than 1.5% in the current bill is really disingenuous to those districts that are really struggling like us.”

Preliminary revenue changes: These changes will affect how much funding the district can use to cover costs.
  • Decreases:
    • State funding loss due to projected average daily attendance being lower: $1.5 million
  • Increases:
    • Legislative outcomes from the 88th legislative session are to be decided.
    • Investment income from rise in interest rates: $2 million
    • Bus passes: TBD
    • Child nutrition revenue: TBD
    • Rental revenue: TBD
Preliminary cost changes: In the 2023-24 school year, the district expects to pay more for utilities and technology expenditures but save money on reducing staff positions.
  • Increases:
    • Utilities: approximately $1 million
    • Property insurance premiums: $350,000
    • Technology expenditures previously covered by 2017 bond: $1 million
    • Expenditures previously funded by Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund: TBD
    • Strategic Action Plan expenditures: TBD
  • Decreases:
    • Staffing efficiencies: $2.9 million
    • Reduced number of positions: TBD
  • Ongoing considerations:
    • CISD Aquatics Center expecting budgeted loss from 2022-23 school year: $1.45 million
    • Energy Management Program: TBD
    • Student and staff travel: TBD
    • Necessity of strategic action plan initiatives: TBD
    • Staffing initiatives: TBD
Prior to fall 2022, approximately $700,000 was reduced in staffing costs by reorganizing the administration building and district department, according to the presentation. Future reduced staffing positions will not come from dismissing staff members, according to Superintendent Lane Ledbetter. He said positions will be reduced as staff members choose to leave the district.

“No teacher is losing their job,” Ledbetter said. “We’re not firing anyone. ... I want to make that point clear.”

Implemented cost reduction measures for 2023-24: CISD will carry out these changes to cut costs in next year’s budget.
  • Vacancies removed (positions and stipends): $500,000
  • Staffing Efficiency Plan: $1.6 million
  • Removing Professional Learning Community and teaming periods for fifth to eighth grades: $900,000
Trustee Alex Sexton said the district needs to be careful in implementing any changes that affect staff, such as removing teachers' planning periods.

“Let's be very careful not to disrupt the culture and the things that make us special,” he said.

Bottom line: A balanced budget is not going to happen without help from the Legislature, according to Ledbetter.

“We’re going to have to look at some things that may not be popular ideas, but they’re going to be necessities,” Trustee Michelle Moore said.

Get involved: CISD officials are encouraging parents and community members to contact their local legislative members to advocate for increased funding per student. Community members can insert their name, email and ZIP code at www.takeactiondragons.com, and a letter will be sent on their behalf to legislators.

“It’s paramount that the community rise up and make your representatives know that they need to add an increase to the basic student allotment,” Bryan said.