The Cy-Fair ISD board of trustees heard sharp criticism from dozens of speakers, including CFISD employees, parents and students, regarding potential staff reductions for the upcoming school year during the May 6 meeting.

“We need our school board to be transparent about the budget deficit, and for the community to be involved in the process of adjusting the budget and raising the funds," CFISD parent Wendy Cowen said. "Our public schools have been politicized by those seeking higher office, but our local public schools and students are the ones left to bear the consequences.“

Many speakers' comments and handmade signs primarily blamed Gov. Greg Abbott for the impending budget shortfall, claiming he was withholding adequate funding from public schools in pursuit of a school voucher program during the 88th Texas Legislature.

Community Impact previously reported CFISD was cutting hundreds of positions for fiscal year 2024-25 due to a projected $138.6 million budget shortfall.

The big picture

Superintendent Doug Killian said the district has not notified any employees they are losing their jobs. While some existing positions will be eliminated for the 2024-25 school year, the district will seek to match those employees with open positions.

Those who were notified their positions will expire at the end of the school year will have an opportunity to be placed in a classroom to fill existing teacher vacancies and other openings throughout the district, he said.

Killian said the looming budget cuts are not a surprise, and pandemic-related inflation is one of many contributing factors.
  • Pandemic-era federal funding—known as Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding—has been supplementing additional costs for the past few years, but it expires this fiscal year, which ends in June.
  • Record inflation of about 19% since FY 2019-20 has driven up district operating costs.
  • The state’s per-pupil funding contributions have not been increased since 2019, and student attendance has fallen by 2%—which cost the district $15 million in state funds.
  • Increases in special education, bilingual, and safety and security expenditures equaled $71 million.
  • The district’s 20% local optional homestead exemption, which has been in place since 1983, results in a loss of $63 million in funding.
  • Salary increases and retention stipends have cost $180.6 million since FY 2019-20.
Diving in deeper

Based on feedback from the board, CFISD Chief Financial Officer Karen Smith presented a revised plan for $58.6 million in budget reductions, down from the initial proposal of $68 million. The district's fund balance will cover the remaining shortfall, she said.

District-level staff reductions of $5.77 million include:
  • 42 curriculum coaches/assistant teachers
  • 35 support staff/administrative assistants
  • 11 other professional-level positions
  • Six directors, coordinators and managers
  • One assistant superintendent
Campus-level staff reductions of $29.71 million include:
  • 278 classroom teachers
  • 120 other professional support staff
  • 31 clerical/support staff
  • 13 campus administrators
Maintenance and operations staff reductions of $2.12 million include:
  • 60 operations positions
  • 21 maintenance positions
Additional reductions include:
  • $4.72 million in transportation department reductions, including labor, fuel, maintenance and other operating costs
  • $16.31 million in nonstaff miscellaneous budget reductions
Quote of note

Following a lengthy address in which he spoke about his 20 years of experience in education and his experience advocating for additional public school funding from the state, Killian said the district is committed to working with the community for the benefit of the district as a whole.

“Finally, I just would like to say thank you to everybody that hung around. If you look around, there's not many of you. It's because we come and we say our piece, and then we leave and we expect somebody else to solve those problems,” Killian said. “Those problems will not be solved just by a few people. It's going to take a number of people working together to find solutions going forward. And I'll reiterate, we were committed at the district level to taking hard cuts with the fourth-lowest administrative cost ratio in the state of Texas.”

What’s next

The board is expected to approve a budget for FY 2024-25 at its June 17 meeting.