FISD moves ahead with budget plans

Frisco ISD is moving forward with preparing its budget for the 2015-16 school year, despite not knowing what will come out of the Texas Legislature.

The FISD board of trustees is scheduled to approve the budget, which is currently proposed at nearly $416 million, at its June board meeting.

Superintendent Jeremy Lyon said although there is a commitment in the legislature to increase appropriations for schools, FISD is planning a conservative budget.

“Even though there’s a general acknowledgement that public education in the state is going to receive anywhere between $2.2 billion to $3 billion in additional revenue, how they appropriate that we don’t know,” he said. “We don’t know if Frisco is going to get less money, the same money or more money.”

Lyon said school district staff is paying close attention to several bills currently going through the legislature, including House Bill 1759, the school financing bill that would add about $3 billion in per-student funding. But depending on how the Legislature formulates funding for school districts, FISD’s portion of state funds may or may not increase from previous years, he said.

Richard Wilkinson, FISD deputy superintendent of business services, said he would not be surprised if the Legislature is called into a special session to decide on school financing legislation. FISD is aiming to keep the budget tight while accommodating for the projected growth in the next school year, he said.

The preliminary budget is about $26 million more than the 2014-15 school year’s budget. It includes about $20 million to go toward staffing the new campuses opening in the fall, Wilkinson said.

Instruction, which includes teachers’ salaries, makes up about 60 percent of the preliminary budget. Payroll costs for district employees makes up about 80 percent of the budget.

Wilkinson said each department made budget requests and, while no services have been cut from the budget, some departments may not get as much as was requested.

“Each one of those departments had needs based on growth, and we collectively prioritized those needs,” he said. “We actually made reductions in many of those areas.”

One of the proposed reductions includes salary increases. FISD normally gives employees a 3 percent salary increase every year, but the increase is proposed at 2.5 percent for the next school year.

“That is what we felt like from an administrative standpoint that we could afford to give to employees,” said Rick Bankston, FISD chief financial officer. “We looked at not eliminating anything that we normally do, just maybe not adding as much in extras.”

Lyon said the money reserved for 2.5 percent salary increases is still a significant portion of the payroll portion of the budget, and FISD is committed to giving its employees a sustainable income.

“We’d like to do more, but we have to be conservative not knowing the final outcome in Austin,” he said.

Wilkinson said the tight budget might also prevent the district from contributing 20 percent of the budget to the fund balance, which is a balance of funds left over at the end of a fiscal year, as FISD has done in the past.

The district will not plan on making major adjustments to the budget after the legislative session unless FISD receives significantly less funding from the state, Lyon said.

“That’s kind of the game that we’re forced into,” he said. “Not knowing what’s going to ultimately happen in Austin, we are adopting a very conservative and what we think is a very prudent budget, and we’re committing to it.”


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