Fort Bend ISD passed its 2023-24 budget with a caveat that it will likely see amendments if stalled state legislation passes and changes the way school districts are funded.

What happened

The FBISD board of trustees passed its annual budget at a June 26 meeting while acknowledging the likelihood of changes to the budget plan due to prospective legislation facing delays in the state Senate and House.

The 2023-24 general fund, debt service fund and child nutrition fund passed unanimously. The Texas Education Agency requires school districts to prepare a budget by June with a July 1 fiscal year according to agenda documents.

Budget explained

The proposed $940.8 million budget that passed June 26 reflected a roughly $10 million increase from last year’s budget of $930 million.

The current 2023-24 budget breakdown includes:
  • $766.6 million for the general operating budget
  • $124.7 million for the debt service fund
  • $49.5 million in the child nutrition fund
How we got here

FBISD officials said the budget is likely to see amendments as they say they’re waiting on additional special legislative sessions that could result in changes to state funding.

Currently the Texas Legislature is at a stalemate as one House and one Senate bill with different plans are stuck in each respective chamber with no clear path to the governor’s desk.

Both bills would cut school property taxes and replace the funding difference by funding school districts directly. The special session called for the purpose of passing the property tax legislation ends June 28.

Position 6 FBISD Board Member Kristen Malone said she has high hopes that the state Legislature will increase funding to allow the district to increase compensation for teachers and staff.

“We're approving these budgets today because we have to, and we're still essentially pending what is the state Legislature going to do. ... This [budget plan is] likely going to be amended in the near future.”

Looking ahead

Fort Bend ISD Deputy Superintendent Steven Bassett previously told Community Impact the proposed legislation that would reduce school district property tax rates and make up the funding difference with state funds could affect FBISD’s debt service fund. This is the fund the district uses to pay its debt obligations, including bond payments.

FBISD’s recent $1.26 billion bond that was approved by voters in a May election came with projections on how the district predicted property tax collections may grow based on its current rate.

Bassett said a reduced tax rate from the state may put the district “in a bind” in terms of potentially having to increase the rate more than previously anticipated.

“For the 2023 bond, we said that we think we'd be able to handle that bond with just one penny increase [on the tax rate,]” Bassett said. “Depending on how [legislation] plays out, we may have to go above that. I'm not saying we are, it just depends. We just don't know what they’re going to pass.”