Keller ISD interim Superintendent John Allison hosted a community budget education seminar Nov. 29 that highlighted concerns for the 2024-25 school year budget. He also provided a call to action on how to possibly alleviate some of those concerns.

The backstory

Allison discussed how rising inflation combined with the Texas Legislature’s failure to increase the basic per student funding allotment has resulted in a situation where Keller ISD must address a potential budget shortfall of more than $27 million.

According to the Texas Education Agency, 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 that district’s residents. The basic allotment per student is $6,160 and has not changed since 2019.

The details

In his presentation, Allison said that inflation has had a major impact over the last several years on district spending. While average inflation in the U.S. has increased by 17% since August 2019, according to the Consumer Price Index, Allison highlighted the following increases to Keller ISD since 2019:
  • 204% in insurance
  • 97% in fuel
  • 30% in utilities
  • 14% in transportation
  • 10% in staffing/raises
“This is not new news to anybody,” Allison said. “But sometimes folks forget that school districts are facing the same pressures just like any business.”

Allison added that the district is having to absorb these increased expenses in its budget with no additional funding from the state. In order to cover the increases caused by inflation, Allison said that the basic allotment would need to increase from $6,160 to $7,100.

To help pay for the increase to the basic allotment, Allison pointed out that Texas is sitting on a $50 billion surplus. He said that while most states typically have conversations about education—the largest portion of state spending—at the end of the budget process, having such a huge budget surplus could allow education to be the top priority in Texas’ budget process.

“[The Legislature] could fund public [education] and still have a huge portion of historic budget surpluses,” Allison said. “To me, that borders on almost criminal.”

The specifics

In terms of the 2024-25 academic year, Allison said district staff has to budget for the worst-case scenario, which includes no additional moneys coming from the state. He stated that looking at the last few years of trends, the budget to operate Keller ISD will include a shortfall of more than $27 million. According to district documents, specific projections include:
  • $3.94 million increase in utilities
  • $4.73 million increase in transportation/fuel
  • $2.15 million increase in property insurance
  • $3.2 million in ongoing costs from the expiration of elementary and secondary school emergency relief funds
  • $1.2 million in 10-year budget for facility repairs
  • $3 million to eliminate transfer from workers comp fund
  • $4 million in reduced enrollment projection
  • $5.14 million increase in student technology
What you need to know

Allison concluded his presentation with a call to action for members of the community to reach out to their legislative officials.

“The only way that we don’t have to talk about $27 million is that we see something coming from the state, and we need [representatives] to push the governor and other leadership to take care of public [education],” Allison said.

He included the following contact information of legislative officials that represent Keller ISD:Quote of note

“We’ve got to get something done, not just for Keller kids but for all Texas kids across the state,” Allison said.