After meeting for six months, the Richardson ISD Community Budget Steering Committee has landed on a set of recommendations to help the district cease to operate at a deficit for fiscal year 2024-25.

What you need to know

Formed in July 2023—about a month after the district adopted its $407.7 million budget for fiscal year 2023-24, which included a nearly $15 million deficit—the committee has been looking at areas like facility utilization, staffing and compensation, administration and revenue generation to address future shortfalls.

At the Dec. 14 RISD board of trustees meeting, the committee presented multiple recommendations that would be phased in over time to address a shortfall in the FY 2024-25 budget, including:
  • Consolidating some elementary schools to address the more than 9,000 vacant elementary school seats across the district
  • Opening enrollment to students outside the district
  • Adding a $0.03 increase to the district’s maintenance and operations tax rate that would need to be approved by voters
  • Making cuts to RISD’s central and support departments
  • Implementing a new staffing framework
“The sky is not falling in RISD, and in fact, the opposite is true,” RISD Superintendent Tabitha Branum said in a news release. “At the conclusion of this budget process, we expect to have the long term financial flexibility necessary to provide the resources for our students and educators to continue to thrive.”

The context

The FY 2023-24 budget is the fourth consecutive deficit budget adopted by RISD, according to the district’s website. The FY 2022-23 budget included a deficit of $25.9 million.

For FY 2024-25, the district expects to have a $47.5 million shortfall.

According to the district's website, the projected upcoming budget shortfall is largely due to a lack of increase to public education funding from the Texas Legislature since FY 2018-19 and enrollment decline due to the pandemic. Another issue cited by the district is the need to increase wages to keep up with inflation and compete for staff and faculty talent.

What’s next?

RISD trustees plan to begin discussions for the FY 2024-25 budget Jan. 18., when leadership will present a timeline for implementing the committee’s recommendations, in addition to presenting options for which elementary campuses to consolidate.

The district will likely vote to adopt the next budget in June.

“As part of the discussion and planning process next semester, we will engage school communities potentially impacted to answer questions and consider their feedback,” Branum said. “While we have some difficult decisions and conversations ahead, no employee will lose a job as a result of any possible consolidation.”