Fort Bend ISD adopted a balanced budget for the fiscal year 2024-25 amid revenue uncertainties for the upcoming school years and financial constraints.

The FBISD board of trustees unanimously adopted the FY 2024-25 budget with no discussion at the June 10 meeting, as trustees and staff discussed the budget details in the previous June 3 workshop meeting.

The details

According to budget documents, components of the 2024-25 budget include:
  • A projected student enrollment of 80,572, which is higher than the 2023-24 enrollment following a slowing in enrollment growth overall
  • A proposed tax rate remaining at $0.9869 per $100 property valuation
  • No compensation adjustments for employees due to budget constraints, but $3.5 million goes to step increases provided by revenues from the voter-approval tax rate election, district staff said
Digging deeper

During May budget discussions, FBISD staff said they’d identified $24.7 million in priorities and only $3.55 million of flexible monies. This comes after FBISD previously made $39 million in expenditure cuts in FY 2022-23 and FY 2023-24, staff said.

Regionally and statewide, public school districts are facing general fund shortfalls for FY 2024-25, including Katy ISD, Cy-Fair ISD, Spring ISD and Tomball ISD in the Greater Houston area, Community Impact reported.

FBISD’s revenue is largely affected by the district’s enrollment and average daily attendance, or ADA, FBISD Chief Financial Officer Bryan Guinn said at the June 3 workshop. ADA is the number of students in attendance daily in relation to the state's required number of instructional days, according to the Texas Education Agency.

FBISD’s ADA percentage is 95%, which is lower than it was pre-pandemic, Guinn said. Each one percentage point of ADA equals about $5.7 million in revenue.

Zooming out

District officials said various external factors could also affect future budgets, including state funding through the 89th Texas Legislature, which begins in January.

Education savings accounts, commonly known as private school vouchers, would affect the FBISD's 2025-26 school year revenue if approved in the Texas Legislature, Guinn said. This could cause a $13 million-$16 million potential revenue hit, as FBISD students could transfer to private school systems, he said.

“I think that’s part of the anxiety that you’re seeing from public school officials is that we really don’t know how this is going to impact us,” Guinn said. “We can’t say definitively, ‘This campus will lose this number of students; we’ll be able to reduce our costs by this amount,’ because again, this will be global across the district.”

What they're saying

Superintendent Marc Smith said FBISD administration plans to be active in the upcoming legislative session to plan for potential revenue impacts.

“We will be able to, of course, report back to the board but have a greater sense of what we can anticipate potentially so that then we can take the next steps to begin to have a plan in place for the out [of session] years,” he said. “So being in the front end in the legislative activity, I think, will be critical—especially this year.”

While the impact of vouchers on the public school system is hard to predict, trustees Rick Garcia and David Hamilton said they believe many students who choose to transfer from the district will return to FBISD.

“I think that there will be an initial shock to our system, but what I’ve seen, typically mid-year, is people will leave—they’re upset, they want to try something different. Then they realize the grass isn’t always greener on the other side so they come back, and they come back pretty substantially,” Garcia said.

What’s next

While the board is required to pass the FY 2024-25 budget by June 30, board President Kristin Tassin said trustees will hold more workshops in July to discuss and potentially amend next year’s budget.

Both Tassin and trustee Adam Schoof took their seats on the board May 13, so Tassin said the board should still create joint objectives and priorities.

“If we feel like the budget needs to be amended at any time, we obviously have the right and the responsibility to do that as things change,” Tassin said.