“We’ve actually adopted several deficit budgets, but we’ve been very fortunate, and we have not realized any of those deficits to this point,” Chief Financial Officer Karen Smith said at the June 11 board work session. “We fully believe that we will be adding a little bit to fund balance this year for 2019-20.”
The final amended budget for 2019-20—which initially included a projected $27.5 million deficit—shows the district will add at least $2.7 million to its fund balance by the time the fiscal year ends, according to Smith, who said the district already has about six and a half months of expenses in its fund balance.
An anticipated student enrollment growth rate of about 0.5%, the opening of Rowe Middle School and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic all played a role in the budgeting process, Smith said. Expenditures amount to about $8,783 per student with the district’s projected enrollment of 118,498.
Superintendent Mark Henry said at the June 16 board meeting that he believes the 2020-21 school year will look different than any year the district has endured before. Because of changes made due to the pandemic, operations will cost more than the typical academic year, he said.
“This is going to be a tough year,” he said. “The bottom line is there are so many uncertainties. We really feel like we’re going to be operating two systems this year—we’re going to be operating in-person, regular school, and we’re going to be providing a virtual environment.”
Job security for CFISD employees is a top priority despite budget challenges, Henry said, and layoffs are not being discussed at this time.
According to the district, CFISD plans to spend about 65% of the budget on classroom instruction, 8.6% on plant maintenance and operations, 4.9% on transportation, 5% on school leadership, 3.9% on guidance and counseling, 2.2% on cocurricular and extracurricular activities, 1.8% on general administration and 1.1% on health services.
In the 2019-20 budget, full-time teachers, counselors, librarians and nurses received a one-time $1,000 payment and up to a 3.5% salary increase, and hourly employees and administrators received a one-time $500 payment and a 3% salary increase.
Full-time teachers, counselors, librarians and nurses in 2020-21 can expect to see the one-time $1,000 payment from 2019-20 rolled in to their salaries in addition to a 1% increase, while hourly employees and administrators will see last year's $500 payment rolled in to their salaries in addition to a 1% increase, Smith said. These payments and salary increases are expected to cost the district $20.4 million.
In addition, the starting teacher salary in CFISD will be $56,000 in 2020-21—up from $55,500 last year.
Smith said another $10 million in the budget would be designated for costs incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including personal protective equipment, an increase in substitute teacher costs, remote learning packet printing and other expenses.
About 54.3% of anticipated revenue will come from local property taxes and 43.6% from state funds, Smith said. These figures are based on a proposed property tax rate of $1.3578 per $100 valuation, down from $1.37 last year, she said.