Plano ISD trustees hear preliminary budget details for 2020-21 school year

Plano ISD trustees heard from Randy McDowell on portions of the preliminary budget for the 2020-21 school year. (Screenshot via Plano ISD)
Plano ISD trustees heard from Randy McDowell on portions of the preliminary budget for the 2020-21 school year. (Screenshot via Plano ISD)

Plano ISD trustees heard from Randy McDowell on portions of the preliminary budget for the 2020-21 school year. (Screenshot via Plano ISD)

A first look at Plano ISD’s preliminary budget for the 2020-21 school year shows a roughly $1.6 million decrease in department budgets.

This follows a $10 million budget cut from the previous year, said Randy McDowell, chief financial officer for the district, who presented the budget update to the board of trustees April 21.

The budget currently reflects a typical school year rather than one with online learning. That could change down the line, Superintendent Sara Bonser said during the virtual work session.

PISD closed its campuses and moved to online learning in mid-March. The district will continue online learning through the end of the 2019-20 school year.

“We don't know what summer and August and September are going to look like with the COVID scenario,” Bonser said. “So we're going to have to be flexible... in our allocation processes once we have a more clear picture of what school is going to look like.”


The process behind creating a budget was different this year in the fact that each department was asked to break its individual costs into more detail than in previous years, according to McDowell.

“This is a budget that’s probably had more work has gone into it than any budget that I've done over my career,” McDowell said.

Department budgets include academic services, student engagement and district services, technology services, employee services, student and family support services, district leadership and others.

The 2019-20 adopted department budgets added up to roughly $75 million. The proposed department budgets total closer to $73 million.

The total budget for the coming year expects to have significant changes in select areas, according to the presentation.

Added costs are expected for the expansion of the middle school Inspire program; cybersecurity requirements; the implementation of time clocks; increased property and casualty insurance; the expansion of College, Career, and Military Readiness; and increased testing requirements.

The budget is expected to see a decrease from changing early childhood school meals to an in-house service and no longer needing to pay a one-time program cost for safety and security, according to McDowell.

Enrollment numbers and property value growth are expected to decrease in the coming year, and recapture is expected to increase, according to the presentation. Together, this means a smaller predicted net revenue for PISD, the presentation showed.

Campus allocations are expected to remain the same as those in the 2019-20 school year, including allocations for special student populations.

A total budget summary will be shared with the board of trustees in May, and a compensation plan will be adopted that same month. In late June, a public hearing will take place, and a budget will be approved before the tax rate is adopted in September.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick recently spoke with school districts and the Texas Education Agency about school funding, Bonser said. He anticipates schools being made as whole as they can be in the next year, Bonser said.

“In the same vein, the [TEA] commissioner has told us all that we need to be very cautious and very conservative because what we do today will affect a year from now and two years from now and three years from now,” Bonser said. “And right now it's a little uncertain what that path out of this situation is gonna look like.”
By Liesbeth Powers
Liesbeth graduated from Baylor University with a degree in new media journalism in December 2018. She gained her newspaper experience as a staff writer and multimedia editor at her campus paper, The Baylor Lariat. Liesbeth joined the Community Impact team in August 2019, where she reports on all things Plano and Richardson, including Plano City Council and Dallas Area Rapid Transit.


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