Tax swap considered for 2017-18 school budget
While Fort Bend ISD staff are not expecting a large allocation increase from the state this year, they no longer anticipate being in the red for 2017-18. Chief Financial Officer Steven Bassett and Executive Director of Finance Dina Edgar recommended the board approve a 2-cent tax swap between the I&S and M&O tax rates next school year.
The I&S, or interest and sinking, tax rate funds a district’s debt services while the M&O, or maintenance and operations, tax rate supports the budget’s general fund. Bassett and Edgar said the district could lower its I&S tax rate from $0.30 to $0.28 per $100 valuation and raise the M&S rate from $1.04 to $1.06 per $100 valuation next school year.
“Doing this would raise $14 million in the general fund,” Edgar said. Trustees and voters would have to approve the measure.
The district will have a clearer idea of their expected allocation once property values from the comptroller’s office are received by the end of the month, Edgar said. Bassett said that although Texas Comptroller Gen Hagar estimated a $2.86 billion revenue shortfall for the 2018-19 two-year budget, FBISD was relatively secure due to property and enrollment growth that generated revenue since last year.
“It is going to be a tight year,” he said.
Attendance boundaries approved for new schools
The board also approved attendance boundary changes for four new schools expected to open in the next two years. The boundaries can be seen on the district’s website.
Donald Leonetti Elementary School (ES No. 48) and Ronald Thornton Middle School (MS No. 15) are in Sienna Plantation and expected to open in 2017-18 and 2018-19, respectively.
James C. Neill Elementary (ES No. 49) and James Patterson Elementary (ES No. 50) are in the Richmond area and will open in 2017-18. Patterson, who is Precinct 4 commissioner for Fort Bend County, thanked the board Monday for the honor and for their work as trustees.
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$20.9 million worth of bond projects approved
As part of its 2014 bond program, FBISD approved a combined $20.9 million of capital projects Monday. The projects include renovations to 14 school campuses, two administrative buildings and two transportation centers.
Chiller replacements at Marshall High School and Sartartia Middle School were also approved, along with the purchase of 250 digital radios for school buses and 20 handheld radios for the transportation department.
The board also authorized the superintendent to negotiate a contract with asbestos abatement consulting firms in relation to renovation work to be done on district buildings.