Changes proposed to the Klein ISD budget at the June 21 board of trustees meeting still stand, with the exception of one proposed budget cut related to employee benefits.
At its July 9 meeting, the board discussed retaining its policy to pay retiring employees for unused sick and personal leave for the 2018-19 school year, which would reduce the proposed budget cuts by $300,000 to $36.6 million.
The budget cuts are needed because Klein ISD voters rejected the tax ratification election on June 16 that would have raised the district tax rate by 9 cents. The board of trustees must now make $30.2 million in cuts before adopting the budget Aug. 27, KISD Superintendent Bret Champion said.
“We’re cutting more than what we actually need for the first year, knowing that we may not potentially be able to achieve all those targeted numbers,” said KISD Chief Financial Officer Dan Schaeffer.
Cutting the employee reimbursement plan, which allows KISD employees to be compensated for accumulated sick and personal days upon retirement, was determined to be fiscally unfeasible, officials said.
“If teachers took another day of their sick leave, it would cost us about the same that we would have saved in reducing benefits,” Schaeffer said.
Although that cut is not being considered for this upcoming school year, it could be an option for 2019-20, he said.
“Our plan is to… study [the budget cut]further, and make sure that it would result in the savings that we are looking for,” Schaeffer said.
Other proposed budget cuts for the 2018-19 school year include campus reductions, such as increasing the student-to-teacher ratio by one; reducing employee benefits and compensation; decreasing non-campus costs, like administrative salaries; and delaying the opening of Elementary School No. 33, which had been expected to open in August 2019, he said.
Additionally, the district aims to generate $10.8 million in revenues through a state tax code provision which allows districts to move 2 cents from the debt portion of the tax rate to the maintenance and operations side in the year after a natural disaster, such as Hurricane Harvey.
A draft final budget and a proposed budget meeting are slated for July 30 and Aug. 13, respectively.
At the July 9 meeting, the board also approved adopting an ordinance to set the 2018-19 tax rate at $1.43 per $100 valuation, the same rate as 2017-18. In the newly adopted tax rate, the maintenance and operations portion will increase from $1.04 to $1.06 per $100 valuation and the debt service portion will decrease from 39 cents to 37 cents per $100 valuation.