Public hearings on the Conroe ISD budget for fiscal year 2021-22 will be held in August, but the preliminary budget shows a possible tax rate decrease depending on the increase in property values in the district, according to CISD Chief Financial Officer Darrin Rice.

Although a virtual academy is now off the board because legislation to support their creation in the state failed in the regular session of the Texas Legislature, some other potential new costs this fall are still unknown, Rice said at a June 15 board of trustees meeting.

“We do not know what the state of COVID-19 will be when our students report back to school in the fall,” Rice said.

Enrollment projections are also uncertain. Normally, 1,500 students are added to the district each year but that was not the case in the last school year, he said. The projection for the 2021-22 school year is 66,298 students, he said.

Certified property values in the district are expected to reach $42.13 billion in the 2021 tax year, a 5% increase. A 5% property value growth rate will mean a decrease of $0.02 in the tax rate, which would be $1.19 per $100 valuation. However, the tax values will not be certified until July 25, he said. A higher amount of property value growth could mean further reductions to the tax rate, he said. The tax rate for fiscal year 2020-21 is $1.2125 per $100 valuation.

All district employees will receive a 3% raise in the 2021-22 year, according to the preliminary budget, but bus drivers will receive a 5% raise. The minimum salary in the district will be $12 per hour, and the new teacher starting salary will be $58,500, Rice said. The cost of the raises is $12.5 million.

Rice said the recommendation is to also include $10 million in retention stipends in the next school year. A total of 72 new positions are planned in the district with a cost of $3.47 million, he said.

The budget will not be recommended to the board until after a July 14 District-Level Planning and Decision-Making Committee meeting, but following that public hearings will be held Aug. 3 and Aug. 17, Rice said.

The expected revenue for the 2021-22 year is $585.99 million, and expected expenditures are $595.99 million, which can be offset with $10 million in COVID-10 relief funding, Rice said, to create a balanced budget.