North East ISD will roll out a $560 million general fund budget in the 2022-23 academic year.

The school board unanimously voted June 23 to adopt a document that contains $481.3 million in salaries and benefits—about $20 million lower than the 2021-22 school year budget.

But NEISD officials said the $20 million in pay and benefits are separately listed with the items that the district is funding using its allocation in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds.

NEISD trustees on June 20 approved $8 million in pay raises for the upcoming school year as well as another one-time retention supplement for eligible employees.

But some employees continue to criticize the budget and compensation for the 2022-23 school year, saying approved pay hikes are not enough to help many district staff keep pace with increasing costs of living.

“Teachers and support employees are reaching the break point,” North East American Federation of Teachers President Patsy Esterline told trustees June 23.

NEISD officials said they will keep a close eye on student enrollment and average daily attendance, which helps to determine state funding for a school district.

NEISD reported a 2021-22 total student enrollment of 59,830, a number district officials project dropping to 58,556 in 2022-23.

Only five San Antonio-area school districts, including Northside ISD, received less general fund revenue per average daily attendance in 2020-21.

“Once the pandemic [hit], we all [saw] an acceleration of our [student enrollment] decline,” said Susie Lackorn, executive director of NEISD’s finance and accounting department, in a previous board meeting.

Lackorn attributed the projected continued drop enrollment to competition posed by a rising number of charter, cooperative, private and virtual schools.

“We’re definitely seeing a different environment in terms of average daily attendance and enrollment,” she said in a previous board meeting.

Because of the projected decrease in student enrollment, NEISD’s new budget will contain a reduction of 63 full-time teaching positions districtwide, including 57 at the middle and high school levels, yielding $4.3 million in savings.

The budget also has another $2.1 million in savings through the reduction of 56 non-teaching positions, including counselors and assistant principal spots.

But the district is adding 31 campus-based assistant professional positions, including 19 special education assistants and 13 prekindergarten assistants.

Lackorn said the district will also closely watch certified taxable values, which the Bexar Appraisal District is supposed to deliver by early August, enabling NEISD to set its property tax rate for the new school year.

Lackorn said the local average home market value increased from $287,100 to $331,865 in the past year, but the appraisal district is currently trying to resolve protests by tens of thousands of property owners.

Lackorn said because the Texas Legislature’s House Bill 3 limits property tax revenue increases to 2.5%, NEISD expects to see no significant increase in revenue.