The final budget for the Conroe ISD is still up for debate as the district comes closer to the beginning of the 2019-20 school year.
At its July 16 regular meeting, the CISD board of trustees discussed the preliminary 2019-20 budget. Chief Financial Officer Darren Rice said the district is projected to have a revenue of $555.62 million and expenditures totaling $549.58 million, leaving $6.04 million as a surplus. For comparison, the 2018-19 budget stood at revenue of $502.27 million and expenditures of $495.46 million, with a surplus of $6.81 million.
The main change in revenue came from House Bill 3, which was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott on June 11. The bill creates property tax compression, higher teacher raises and funding for full-day pre-K. Combined with the projected increase of CISD enrollment from 62,837 students to 64,187 students, state revenue is expected to be $45.11 million.
Although HB 3 requires a tax compression and CISD must raise the debt tax to compensate, Rice said CISD taxpayers will still see a tax rate reduction from $1.28 to $1.235.
Raises for teachers, nurses, counselors and librarians mirror past discussions at 3.5%, with 3.5% raises for administrative support, instructional support, auxiliary, police and pay group AE 1-3 staff, which include parent liaisons, speech pathologists and social workers, as well as 3% raises for administrative business and pay group AE 4-10 staff, which include administrators such as principals.
Besides the requirements from HB 3, the largest new item on the expenditure list is the creation of a $10 million capital maintenance fund. Rice said he is recommending the creation of this fund after conversations with the community following the failure of the May bond. In the past, Rice said the board has transferred $10 million from the general fund to the debt service fund to keep the tax rate low, but groups such as the Texas Patriot PAC opposed the bond because there were so many maintenance projects on the list.
“We listened to them; we listened to our focus groups, and they also brought up these maintenance items. So this is our recommendation to address those items,” Rice said. “This is funding $10 million per year. If there’s a potential bond for five years, that would be up to $50 million that we would pull those items out of a potential bond and pay for those out with cash.”
Rice recommended saving the surplus to support the 2020-21 budget or to cover maintenance projects, bond debt or unexpected expenditures.
The next step is July 25, when the board receives the certified property tax value from the appraisal district. Following that, the board will hold a public hearing Aug. 6 and Aug. 20 on the budget and proposed tax rate. At the Aug. 20 meeting, the board will vote to approve the budget.