Austin ISD board of trustees views initial budget assumptions, staff allocations for FY 2016-17

Austin ISD is anticipating that its student population may decrease by 1,300 and taxable property valuations may increase 6 percent during the 2016-17 fiscal year.

AISD’s initial assumptions for the FY 2016-17 budget were presented to the board of trustees during its Oct. 19 meeting.

AISD Chief Financial Officer Nicole Conley said finance staff will confer with a demographer and Student Services to refine student population estimates, and added that it is hard to gauge appraisal values because of the historical fluctuations in Austin.

AISD staff is also anticipating no change to its maintenance and operations tax rate for FY 2016-17, Conley said.

The board also viewed the anticipated staffing formulas for the next fiscal year, which is the allocation of staff at schools. AISD is estimating no change to the allocation other than the number of counselors at elementary and middle schools based on school population, according to AISD.

District 5 trustee Amber Elenz said AISD loses enrollment near the fifth grade level and it is because of the student-to-teacher ratio at that level. She added that middle school teaching is challenging, so she asked staff to find out how much it would take to adjust the student-to-teacher ratio at that level to improve teacher morale.

AISD sets a target class size of 29 at the middle school level, according to AISD.

About 87 percent of the district’s budget is for staffing, AISD Superintendent Paul Cruz said.

Cruz said this has been the fourth conversation the board has had regarding the FY 2016-17 budget. Approval of the budget is not scheduled until June.

The board is scheduled to continue discussing the budget assumptions and staffing formulas during its Nov. 23 meeting.