Tomball ISD approves 2% salary increase, anticipates tax rate decrease for FY 2019-20

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Tomball ISD could see a $2 million surplus in fiscal year 2019-20 from House Bill 3’s change in the school finance formula, Chief Financial Officer Jim Ross said during a June 11 board of trustees meeting.

HB 3, signed into law June 11, allots $11.6 billion to reform the state’s school finance system.

The TISD board of trustees unanimously approved the district’s FY 2019-20 budget June 11—a budget created prior to Gov. Greg Abbott’s signing of HB 3 earlier that day. In addition to the budget, the board approved a general pay increase of 2%.

With the state investing additional dollars into education, Ross said he projects TISD will receive about $2.17 million more than the previous year in funding for FY 2019-20, which begins July 1. An additional $1.79 million is anticipated to come from the state through a formula transition grant. This grant contributes funds so each school district in the state sees funding increase at least 3% from the previous year, Ross said. However, this grant money will be phased out annually by 20% over five years, he said.

“It’s not going to be very long that we have the extra money coming in from this funding,” Ross said.

HB 3 gains, losses

Excluding the temporary grant funds, TISD’s estimates indicate funding will increase 1.64% this year under the new legislation, Ross said.

With a $141.8 million balanced general fund budget adopted June 11, the district anticipates a $2 million surplus from HB 3 as the adopted budget is balanced and did not factor in HB 3 changes, he said.

“We need that, because remember what we start doing next year is opening new schools. You’re going to need to buffer yourself a little bit with that,” Ross said.

TISD officials broke ground on a new educational and athletic complex in late May, the future site of a new elementary school and junior high school slated to open in fall 2020 and fall 2021, respectively.

Apart from a $2 million budget surplus, Ross said the district anticipates little net effect from HB 3.

“We didn’t see a lot of new money. … The Legislature is very impressed with the amount of money they put into public education, but it didn’t come to Tomball,” Ross said. “We did not see a favorable result in this as other [districts] do, but it is not something that Tomball ISD can’t live with because we’re quite accustomed to high performance at a very low cost. I feel confident we will be fine.”

Under HB 3, the district is no longer subject to recapture, the redistribution of property tax revenue from property-wealthy to property-poor districts, Ross said. Additionally, the per-pupil allotment to districts increased from $5,140 to $6,160—the first time this basic allotment has increased in four years, he said.

However, with changes in the funding formula to eliminate the cost of education index—an adjustment to the basic allotment compensating districts such as Tomball in highly competitive areas with uncontrollable costs—and other allotments, Ross said he estimates the district lost about $2.87 million from the new legislation.

“There was a significant change in the basic allotment that’s being talked about a lot as a huge increase, but when you change all those other components with those eliminations and you do those type of decreases, that really changed the way this looks,” Ross said. “For us, it virtually wiped out all the gains that we had with the increase in that basic allotment.”

If the basic allotment had increased and no other changes were made to the funding formula, Ross said he estimates TISD would have gained $19.5 million in the upcoming year.

When comparing surrounding districts’ gains from HB 3, Ross said TISD remains at the bottom of the list for revenue per pupil.

“The measurement for me is how much did we get in revenue per pupil,” he said. “We were the lowest of these groups; we’re still the lowest. Even with these changes, we’re in no different position than we were before as far as with revenue per [average daily attendance].”

Taxpayer relief

HB 3 requires districts’ maintenance and operations rates to decrease from $1.04 per $100 valuation to $0.97 per $100 valuation, Ross said.

However, TISD’s interest and sinking rate—that which funds the district’s debt payments—was $0.02 short per $100 valuation in the adopted FY 2019-20 budget, leaving a $2 million shortfall in the debt service budget due to slower growth than expected in the property tax base, he said. To make up the funds, Ross said he anticipates the I&S rate increasing slightly.

Ross said he foresees about a $0.05 net decrease per $100 valuation in the property tax rate as a result, saving the average taxpayer in TISD about $150 in FY 2019-20.

A tax rate will be adopted at a later time, he said.

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  1. Kathleen Campese

    You should provide information on the raises all surrounding districts are providing. Humble, Katy, Spring, giving between 6%-7%. This is a MAJOR disappointment to TISD teachers and the community should demand better for their kids.

  2. Are the teachers still receding the $5,000 that Governor Abbott promised? TISD teachers work very hard and it is a shame our district is giving smaller raises than the surrounding districts. We constantly hear we are the best district in the area, so PAY our teachers above those districts around us or our children may lose them.

    • No, we received the standard 2% cost of living raise we have received annually for the last several years, nothing additional. For all the promises made, the new legislation was not written in a way that forced TISD to give us any additional pay increases. As a seven year veteran teacher, the 2% increase will only amount to about $1200 for this year, about $100 a month before taxes.

      • The community needs to start asking questions as to where this money is going. Surrounding school districts are giving their teachers a minimum of a 4 percent pay increase, but many are going as high as 8%. The State of Texas allotted $5,000 per teacher for two years. Where is all the money going??

        • The legislature was talking about $5,000 per teacher, but the final bill that passes the legislature and that Gov. Abbott signed into law took out that part, it only reworked the funding formula to increase per student funding and then required districts to dedicate a percentage of the increase to teacher pay. Evidently TISD’s 2% pay raise fell within the mandated percentage.

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Anna Lotz
Anna joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in May 2016 after graduating with a degree in journalism from Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio. In July 2017, she transitioned to editor. Anna covers education, local government, transportation, business, real estate development and nonprofits in the Tomball and Magnolia communities. Prior to CI, Anna served as editor-in-chief of Cedars, interned with the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C., and spent time writing for the Springfield News-Sun and Xenia Daily Gazette.
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