Austin ISD gears up to develop FY2016 budget


At a Dec. 1 work session, the Austin ISD board of trustees discussed plans for its FY2016 budget in the face of tight finances, an upcoming legislative session and declining enrollment.



One question before the board is how it wants to address employee compensation, Interim Superintendent Paul Cruz said.



"We are looking at a multiyear financial plan by looking at our fiscal realities," Cruz said.



In August, the board approved the district's $1.05 billion budget and tax rate for fiscal year 2015 following local education leaders' call for changes in the way the state provides funding for the district. The district budgeted $24.9 million from its general fund reserves in 2015.



Budget assumptions for the FY2016 budget include a possible tax ratification election in June or November of 2015, Chief Financial Officer Nicole Conley said.



"We're assuming a decline in our enrollment based on historical information for funding purposes. We're utilizing our own sort of financial estimates to develop conservative estimates initially," she said, noting the estimate is around 1,257 fewer students next year, but projections will be reevaluated in January once new demographic projections are released. This follows other enrollment declines.



Though AISD maintained past one-time salary increases in the FY2015 budget, the school district has lagged behind other local districts in terms of its teacher salaries and staff compensation.



Trustee Robert Schneider said while he thinks maintaining the one-time increases would be admirable, the district needs to do more. He proposed staff pull together data on how the district might implement a 5 percent increase this year and another 5 percent increase next year to "do whatever it takes to get us to the point where our compensation package is something that's not a burden on our employees and is comparable to what other districts are offering," he said.



He added the district should aim to decrease its class sizes.



"I'm tired of hearing stories about teachers having so many kids in their classroom that there's not desk space for the teacher, which is something I hear frequently," he said.



Trustee Lori Moya said she would support better pay for teachers but the board needs to have a conversation about what kind of tradeoffs would be necessary to make changes.



Jayme Mathias, trustee for District 2, asked how the timing of a possible tax increase would fit in with the possibility of relief from the Texas Legislature in terms of state funding. Conley explained AISD probably will not see results from the upcoming legislative session until the end of August.



AISD is required to give money to the state as part of recapture, also known as Robin Hood, Trustee Cheryl Bradley said.



"I would love to see how we can get teacher compensation at a level where they can afford to live in the city, and maybe we can get the city to understand that it has to become affordable, because if we're continuing to give money to the state our staff are not going to be able to live in the city," she said.



A draft of the FY2016 budget will be presented to the board in January, according to board documents.



MOST RECENT

Want to know more about new businesses coming to the area? Below you can find details on the five latest commercial permits filed in Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto. (Photo courtesy Canva)
Check out the 5 latest commercial permits filed in Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto

The following commercial permits for new businesses or renovations to existing ones have been filed in the past two weeks through the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.

The downtown Round Rock location of Lamppost Coffee will reopen Sept. 27, according to signage recently added to the front door. (Brooke Sjoberg/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lamppost Coffee to reopen in downtown Round Rock during the week of Sept. 27

The downtown Round Rock location of Lamppost Coffee will reopen "the week of Sept. 27," according to signage recently added to the front door.

Attendees will be able to learn about the redistricting process and ask questions about the factors that drive redistricting. (Community Impact Staff)
Rezoning in downtown New Braunfels paves the way for future development

The property located at 157 S. Guenther Ave. was rezoned to a central business district. Plans are underway for a new development on the adjacent property.

The zone will provide additional funding for public improvements within the area. (Community Impact Newspaper)
Third reinvestment zone approved in downtown New Braunfels

The zone will provide additional funding for public improvements within the area.

A new development will be coming to east Kyle. (Courtesy Texas Department of Transportation)
New development will bring homes, shops and an elementary school to east Kyle

A new development on 318 acres of land is coming soon to Kyle.

Pflugerville Fire Chief Ron Moellenberg's last day will be Sept. 30. (Courtesy Travis County ESD No. 2)
Pflugerville Fire Chief Ron Moellenberg to retire this month after 45 years with department

Moellenberg started as a volunteer with what was then called the Pflugerville Volunteer Fire Department before he became chief of the Pflugerville Fire Department in 1986.

Austin, Travis County and Austin ISD officials gathered Sept. 24 to discuss local resilience planning. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin, Travis County, AISD look to build collaboration on community disaster hubs

The governments and school district are looking to grow a network of facilities that can provide resources to residents amid weather emergencies.

Two years after announcing it would build its new headquarters in Hutto, baseball scouting company Perfect Game moved the project to Cedar Park. (Courtesy Perfect Game)
Perfect Game to build new headquarters in Cedar Park, ending Hutto deal

Two years after announcing it would build its new headquarters in Hutto, baseball scouting company Perfect Game moved the project to Cedar Park.

Screen shot of Desmar Walkes speaking at a press conference
Austin Public Health eyes possible shift to Stage 4 guidelines

Local health leaders said they want to see the current downward trend of COVID-19 hospitalizations persist before making any changes.

James Avery Artisan Jewelry sells women’s and men’s jewelry designed in Kerrville, Texas. (Courtesy James Avery Artisan Jewelry)
James Avery Artisan Jewelry relocates Cedar Park store

The new store location held a grand opening Sept. 18.