LTISD unveils proposed 2015-16 budgetLTISD unveils proposed 2015-16 budgetAlthough Lake Travis ISD will be working with what officials consider to be a more manageable $2.5 million shortfall in its 2015-16 budget, tough times are in store for the district when it faces a projected $7.6 million loss two years later.

LTISD officials and board of trustees reviewed the district’s proposed budget for 2015-16 on April 1. It will be approved in August.

The new budget tallies a projected revenue of $98,364,641 with expenses expected to be $100,864,641, leaving a $2.5 million deficit. The 2014-15 fund balance deficit was $1.7 million.

The budget process

“In February we started the budget process and asked campuses to do a zero-based budget­­—they start off at $0 and put down what they think they will need to operate,” said Johnny Hill, LTISD assistant superintendent for Business, Financial and Auxiliary Services.

He said each campus presents its request for needs, and officials decide on a per-pupil allocation based on district population growth and expected revenue. The LTISD board of trustees adds input.

Once the board approves the shortfall, the district works hard to end the year with a balanced budget, he said.

Hill said the district generally makes up the difference between its starting and ending deficits through personnel attrition during the year.

He said a starting teacher earns $250 and a substitute teacher earns $85 daily.

The substitute staffer for a relinquished position may be in place for two months at a lower cost before the permanent position is filled, he said.

“Eighty percent of the budget is in personnel,” Hill said. “We have more than 1,100 employees and an 8 percent annual turnover rate.”

He said cuts, if any, will be from the support services area of the district, such as technology and administration.

“We never cut back on campus allocation,” Hill said of services that include teachers, nurses and counselors. “We are not talking about cutting any campus-based services.”

A shortfall in the range of $2 million to $2.5 million is acceptable because the district can make it up, he said.

“Overall, I’m very happy with the way the budget is looking now,” Hill said. “With a $2.5 million deficit, I feel very confident we will end the year at a balanced budget.”

Looking ahead

LTISD continues to receive state money annually as compensation for the 2005-06 school year when Texas reduced school district property taxes from $1.50 to $1 statewide, Hill said.

Some relief for current school finance formulas may come from legislative efforts this session, spokesman Marco Alvarado said.

“With the long-range budget, we’re talking about major, major cuts—deep personnel cuts,” Hill said. “We’re looking at lowering the tax relief [the school district] is giving to our homeowners.”