Fort Bend ISD isn’t proposing a fiscal year 2024-25 budget shortfall like other Houston-area school districts, but it doesn’t mean the district isn’t facing financial challenges, district officials said.

FBISD has $21.15 million in unmet needs for the upcoming FY 2024-25 budget—with $24.7 million in priorities identified and only $3.55 million available, FBISD Chief Financial Officer Bryan Guinn said at the May 20 FBISD school board meeting.

“Our proposed budget for 2024-25 is balanced, but we have not been immune to this; we’re not in better shape than other districts,” he said.

Put in perspective

Districts regionally and statewide are facing budget shortfalls for the upcoming school years, including Katy ISD, Cy-Fair ISD, Spring ISD and Tomball ISD, to name a few.

FBISD may appear to be in a better financial situation than other districts because staff previously made $39 million in expenditure cuts in FY 2022-23 and FY 2023-24, Guinn said.

“Although we’re balanced, we’re living with the pain of the reductions we have made over the last two years,” he said.

He said some ways the district balanced the budget included:
  • Shifting federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds
  • Using funds from its 90-day reserve balance
  • Discontinuing secondary teacher planning time, which required additional teachers, saving roughly $27 million
  • Eliminating 15 itinerant interventionist positions, with individuals transitioning back into roles through attrition
  • Reducing instructional software overlap
“I think that we have made some hard choices, but at the end of the day we were trying to do what would best serve our students over time,” he said.

The details

FBISD’s tight budget is partially caused by the state’s inaction during the 88th Texas Legislature to increase public school funding—despite having a $4 billion surplus, Guinn said at the previous May 13 meeting.

Additionally, inflation and slowed enrollment growth also contributes to the district's challenges. FBISD spends $11.4 million more annually today than in 2019 to provide the same services, Guinn said.

Zooming in

With the budget restrictions, FBISD will be unable to offer a general salary increase to employees next year but will still offer annual step increases for staff based on years of service, Guinn said.

"Anytime neighboring districts do raises and we're not able to, it's a concern," Guinn said.

The voter-approved tax rate election, passed by voters in November, provided the district with more revenue via a $0.04 per $100 valuation property tax rate bump. A portion of this revenue went to providing step increases for staff, which included differentiated teacher salary bumps at five-year employment milestones, Guinn said.

District staff hope this differentiated pay scale will retain tenured teachers and encourage other teachers to work at FBISD, Guinn said.

Next steps

FBISD will host a public hearing on the proposed FY 2024-25 budget and tax rate June 3 at 5:30 p.m., which will be followed by the 6 p.m. meeting. Trustees are set to adopt the FY 2024-25 budget June 10, Guinn said.