Though Katy ISD’s budget has broken the $800 million threshold for the first time, the district is expected to receive over $36 million less in funding from the state as compared to last year, according to Chris Smith, KISD’s chief financial officer.
KISD’s projected total expenditures—which include the district’s general fund, special revenue fund and debt service fund—are up roughly 2 percent from the fiscal year 2015-16 final amended budget and tally $804,780,693.
“Katy ISD’s been very diligent with taxpayer’s money,” said KISD Superintendent Lance Hindt. “We’re utilizing every penny on behalf of our kids.”
With three new campuses—Bethke and Jenks elementary schools and Tays Junior High School—added to the district, the budget assumes a student enrollment increase of 2.9 percent, up to 75,744 students.
The budget also includes a 1 percent employee salary increase plus a one-time lump sum payment of an additional 1 percent that will be distributed mid-year.
Rebecca Fox, president of the KISD board of trustees, said board members had hoped they could have implemented a larger employee pay raise. However, she is satisfied the district was able to provide a positive adjustment to employees’ base salaries.
KISD is projected to spend roughly 88 percent of general fund expenditures, totaling $631,409,405, on payroll costs
Many districts around the state are not building salary increases into their respective budgets because they are worried that they will not be able to sustain such expenditures, she said.
“We want to do more for teachers; we always want to give a bigger raise,” she said. “But every 1 percent is $4.5 million of recurring cost to the budget.”
KISD has projected a property value increase of 8.6 percent, up to a total of nearly $36 billion and has kept the tax rate at $1.5166 per $100 valuation—which includes $1.1266 for maintenance and operations and $0.39 for debt services. The debt services rate was lowered 1 cent in the FY 2015-16 budget after staying at $0.40 for several years.
Smith said there were two major challenges with formulating the FY 2016-17 budget. They were the fixed costs associated with the three new schools and state funding formulas that will, in essence, take money away from the district due to property values not increasing by as much as they have in recent years, he said.
Although KISD’s local revenue continues to grow on a annual basis, this year’s projected 8.6 percent property value increase is significantly down from the decade-high of a nearly 18 percent increase in FY 2014-15, Smith said.
The state is expected to contribute $225,366,274 in funding to KISD, a number that is down from last year’s final amended budget amount of $261,786,230.
KISD funding from the federal government is projected to remain virtually unchanged at roughly $23 million.
Despite these and other obstacles, Smith said he is pleased with how the district has financially prepared for the 2016-17 school year and how the corresponding budget has turned out.
“What we think we’ve done is present a good budget,” he said. “It’s a budget that we think will support the vision of being the legacy.”