Local school districts hope for financial relief from legislative session
Public school funding remains a top priority for lawmakers, educators and advocates in the 88th Texas legislative session, which began Jan. 10. Because schools receive funding based on attendance, some administrators said their districts lost funding during the 2021-22 school year.
Average daily attendance, or ADA, is the sum of students present throughout the school year divided by the number of days that schools are required to be open, according to the Texas Education Agency. Schools earn $6,160 per student who meets the average daily attendance threshold, but officials at local school districts said a more stable system is preferable.
Pearland ISD Superintendent Larry Berger said the dependence on ADA for state funding has contributed to budgetary concerns for the district, which is projecting a $15.1 million budget shortfall for fiscal year 2023-24.
“Even though a kid may be outside of school and I may only have 96% of the kids attending on a certain day, I’m paying for 100% of the school, I’m paying for 100% of the teachers and 100% of the facilities,” Berger said.
Friendswood ISD also anticipates a budget shortfall for FY 2023-24. Similar to the $3.1 million deficit passed in the FY 2022-23 budget, the district expects to be short nearly $4.2 million in the 2023-24 year.
PISD budget documents state it will review its programs and services for possible budget cuts and consider a voter-approval tax rate election to increase the maintenance and operations tax rate.
Meanwhile, Alvin ISD projects a $10 million surplus for the second year in a row in FY 2023-24. This is based on the assumption of an ADA of 1,000 students at the current rate, per the district’s comprehensive annual budget report for 2022-23.
Districts to make headway on bonds
Friendswood and Alvin ISDs will make headway on their respective 2020 and 2018 bond projects in 2023.
AISD will complete three projects this year from its $480.5 million bond that passed in November 2018, Executive Director of Communications Renae Rives said. The district plans to open Delbra Orum Nichols-Wilma Fountain Mock Elementary, Iowa Colony Jr. High and Harby Jr. High schools after completing construction and renovations at the schools, Rives said.
FISD will open Cline Elementary School in August.