Enrollment in Keller ISD is expected to increase a little more than 1% this fall compared with last year as the district continues to regain the student numbers lost during the early part of the pandemic.

Officials this year will also be keeping a close eye on attendance, which correlates to the amount of money received from the state. KISD saw its average daily attendance drop by almost 4% due to COVID-19-related absences when comparing prepandemic years with the 2021-22 school year, according to Scott Wrehe, the district’s chief financial officer.

This year's enrollment in Northwest ISD, meanwhile, is projected to reach 30,154, which would give the district about a 20% student growth since the 2018-19 school year, according to a report from the district’s demographer, Zonda Education. Projections are for another 14% increase between this school year and 2024-25, the demographer report stated.

That fast growth means more money needed not only for operations but also for new schools.

Construction work is ongoing for two new elementary schools, a new middle school and two replacement elementary campuses in NISD. All five are projected to be completed in summer 2023, according to district officials. A long range planning committee will convene this year to determine the district’s needs for the coming years.

“You’re going to be growing for a very long time,” Bob Templeton of Zonda Education told the district at a June 27 work session.

Those student numbers are reflected in the budgets for both districts for fiscal year 2022-23 along with the need to recruit and retain teachers and staff. The KISD board of trustees approved an additional $8.6 million in compensation for its staff this school year. The board for NISD, meanwhile, increased spending by $5.45 million for the additional pay for staff.

Keller ISD

The KISD board of trustees approved the district’s FY 2022-23 budget at the June 21 meeting.

The district’s budget includes nearly $349.35 million in general fund expenditures, nearly $15.1 million for food service and $76.58 million in debt service payments.

The district’s property tax rate, which is scheduled to go before the board of trustees on Sept. 26, is expected to be lower than the FY 2021-22 rate of $1.3440 per $100 valuation, according to discussions at a June budget workshop.

Wrehe said the district lost about 948 students in the months after the pandemic. It gained about 500 students last school year and is expected to gain another 365 students this school year, he said.

The projected enrollment this year is 35,178, according to the district.

A bigger concern during budget discussions was student attendance. Revenue from the state is based in large part on average daily attendance. When students miss school, the district loses money, Wrehe said.

Staff noted that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic the district’s average daily attendance was close to 96%. In the 2021-22 school year, attendance was about 92% due to COVID-19-related absences, according to officials.

“We had no way of projecting that it would be as low as it was,” Wrehe told trustees in June.

Each percentage point drop costs the district about $2.5 million in revenue, Wrehe said.

The board of trustees had the option of building a budget based on an attendance rate of 94% or 96%. It agreed to go with 94% and hope that a higher percentage of students show up for class each day.

“This is another reason it’s so vital that we really hit the [Texas] Legislature for attendance vs. enrollment,” KISD Trustee Ruthie Keyes said during a June budget workshop. “The attendance is killing us. If we had [funding for] enrollment, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.”

Raises approved by the board in April for this school year varied by position. Administrators are receiving a 2.1% raise; counselors are getting a 2.6% raise; teachers and nurses are seeing a 3.1% raise; operational staff members are receiving a 4.3% raise; and paraprofessional employees are getting a 4.8% raise, according to a presentation from Chief Human Resources Officer Tracy Johnson.

The increases also mean the starting pay for teachers, librarians and nurses will increase from $56,800 to $59,000, according to the presentation.

“There’s a lot of work that’s done behind the scenes, whether that’s working on salary projections [or] allocating funds to campuses and departments ... as well as [using] the ever-changing state funding template,” Wrehe said.

Northwest ISD

The NISD board of trustees unanimously approved the district’s FY 2022-23 budget on June 27.

The budget includes $303.13 million in general fund expenditures, $11.71 million in expenses for food service and $122.95 million in debt service payments.

On Aug. 22, the board approved a property tax rate of $1.2746 per $100 valuation, which is slightly less than the previous fiscal year. The decrease occurred in the maintenance and operations rate, which went from $0.872 per $100 valuation to $0.8546 per $100 valuation. The portion of the tax rate for the interest and sinking fund stayed the same at $0.42.

Jonathan Pastusek, the district’s executive director of financial services, told trustees that NISD’s property tax rate is decreasing due to the increase in property values.

Preliminary appraisal numbers show the district’s tax base increased 22.12% from last year to nearly $31.73 billion, according to district figures.

NISD’s employee compensation plan for the 2022-23 school year includes a 3% midpoint pay raise for all employees. The board also increased the starting salary for a teacher with no experience from $56,500 to $58,250.

The district is among the fastest-growing school districts in Texas. Estimates show the district will add 2,542 students in the fall, which is more than 9% growth compared with the 2021-22 school year.

NISD Assistant Superintendent for Facilities Tim McClure said he will be working with the district’s long-range planning committee in the coming school year to determine what the facility needs will be in the future.

Based on the current projections, he said, “it’s almost a new elementary school a year.”