Houston ISD board managers narrowly approved a roughly $2.1 billion budget for fiscal year 2024-25 after hearing from more than 100 students, parents, teachers and community members during the board’s June 13 meeting.

The overview

Board managers voted 5-4 to approve the budget, the board’s closest vote since they and Superintendent Mike Miles were appointed to lead the district by the Texas Education Agency in June 2023.

While board managers Cassandra Auzenne Bandy, Michelle Cruz Arnold, Rolando Martinez and Adam Rivon voted against the budget, they did not openly talk about their decision to cast dissenting votes.

Despite dealing with a nearly $528 million budget shortfall, average teacher salaries across the district will increase from $68,250 during FY 2023-24 to $77,300 during FY 2024-25.

Miles and the board of managers issued a joint statement after the vote stating they would “continue to work together and have tough conversations when necessary to ensure we stay focused on improving student outcomes for all HISD students.”

How we got here

During a May 23 budget workshop, Chief Financial Officer Jim Terry pointed to several factors leading to the district’s budget shortfall, including:Terry said the district is projecting a student population of 179,592 for the 2024-25 school year, which would represent a roughly 14.2% decrease from the district’s student population of 209,309 students in the 2019-20 school year.

A closer look

During a June 10 workshop, Miles said the FY 2024-25 budget will reduce operational spending by about $500 million compared to the FY 2023-24 budget.

Among those cuts include roughly 1,500 layoffs in the district’s central office, Miles said, including:
  • An 88%, or roughly $97 million, reduction to the district’s human resources office’s budget
  • A 45%, or roughly $101 million, budget reduction for the district’s operations office, which employs custodians, bus drivers, maintenance workers and other nonteaching staff members
  • A 37%, or roughly $69 million, budget reduction for the district’s academics office, which employs classroom and curriculum support staff
  • A 58%, or about $68 million, reduction to the district’s information technology office’s budget
According to budget documents, the district is allocating about $684 million—roughly one-third of the budget—toward the funding of 130 "New Education System" or "NES" campuses included in the budget.

NES campuses, which include centralized schedules with longer school days as well as district-approved classroom instruction and lessons, have been a cornerstone of Miles’ overhaul of the district.

Eighty-five of HISD's 274 campuses operated within the NES model in the 2023-24 school year, and an additional 45 schools will be under that umbrella in the fall.

Although NES campuses are projected to have around 23,000 fewer students than non-NES campuses next year, the FY 2024-25 budget allocates about $27 million more to NES campuses, which equates to roughly $2,500 more per student.

Miles said the extra money pays for added staff members, new curriculum and higher teacher salaries. During FY 2024-25, average salaries at NES campuses will increase to $84,400, compared to $77,300 at non-NES schools.

Also of note

The FY 2024-25 budget also includes the removal of roughly 200 employees who provide wraparound support services. HISD employs around 300 wraparound specialists who help students and their families with issues outside of the classroom, including:
  • Food and housing support
  • Tutoring
  • Mentoring
  • Help obtaining basic needs, such as clothing and hygiene products
Officials noted the services will still be provided at seven Sunrise Centers throughout the district, which serve as community hubs where students and their families can access essential services from a variety of partners and providers.

Additionally, the FY 2024-25 budget includes about $1.8 million to expand the district’s partnership with Hazel Health to provide:
  • Free telehealth services for every HISD student
  • Resources to support school nurses
  • Behavioral and mental health counseling
  • Access to a clinical support team to help families navigate long-term treatment plans
What’s next

In addition to the roughly $500 million reduction in operating expenses included in the FY 2024-25 budget, Miles said around $131 million was drawn from the district’s reserve funding to address a roughly $528 million budget shortfall.

Miles said the district will still have about $801 million in reserve funding heading into FY 2024-25, noting the drop shouldn’t affect the district’s bond rating.

Additionally, Miles said officials are planning on selling $80 million worth of property next year, though he did not specify which properties the district was considering selling.