School district officials across the state are planning budget needs for the 2020-21 school year in the wake of economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said in a statement June 18 he anticipates students and staff returning to campuses in the fall.

“It will be safe for Texas public school students, teachers, and staff to return to school campuses for in-person instruction this fall,” he said. “But there will also be flexibility for families with health concerns so that their children can be educated remotely, if the parent so chooses.”

More guidance from the Texas Education Agency is expected to be released next week. Meanwhile, area districts have begun approving budgets for the upcoming fiscal year and weighing options including employee raises.

Cy-Fair ISD’s board of trustees approved a $1.04 billion budget June 16 with an anticipated $39.8 million deficit. Full-time teachers, counselors, librarians and nurses in 2020-21 can expect to see a one-time $1,000 payment included in the 2019-20 budget permanently rolled in to their salaries in addition to a 1% increase, while hourly employees and administrators will see last year's one-time $500 payment rolled in to their salaries in addition to a 1% increase.

Fort Bend ISD anticipates $737.5 million in expenditures next year, according to the budget passed June 15, which does not include raises for any staff members. There is, however, $16.8 million set aside in the budget for the hiring of 246 new positions needed to meet growth needs and other strategic priorities in the district.

Houston ISD—the largest in the state with an estimated 207,809 students—passed a $2 billion budget for 2020-21 giving teachers and other employees on the step pay scale an average 0.85% raise along with a one-time retention bonus of 1.5%. HISD also designated $3.5 million for police salary increases and will cover a $9.3 increase in employee health insurance costs.

Humble ISD’s budget plans include a $13.9 million surplus on top of its estimated $434.5 million in expenditures in 2020-21. Despite the surplus, district officials will not be providing salary increases to most employees, but the district plans to increase employee benefits and adjust some salaries based on increased duties during the pandemic.

Katy ISD has not yet approved its 2020-21 budget, but officials said it would include a 1% salary increase and a 1% lump sum payment for all employees.

Montgomery ISD is slated to adopt a deficit budget toward the end of June. Officials said employees likely would not receive salary increases for the first time in eight years.

Pearland ISD teachers will see a 4% salary increase in 2020-21, and the board also approved an equity adjustment for employees whose salaries do not align with those of their peers of the same title. Officials have not yet approved the budget, but according to district data, the proposed budget includes $234.5 million in expenditures.

Spring ISD officials plan to adopt a budget later this month but previously approved a general 2.5% salary increase for employees at a June 9 meeting.

Tomball ISD employees can expect to see a general pay increase of 2% of the midpoint value of the district’s salary schedule in 2020-21. The district anticipates a balanced budget of $157.7 million in the coming fiscal year, which includes the hiring of more than 140 new positions.

Matt Dulin, Anna Lotz, Haley Morrison, Jen Para, Claire Shoop, Kelly Schafler, Eva Vigh and Hannah Zedaker, contributed to this report.