Home COVID-19 Updates Outbreak hitting school budgets

Outbreak hitting school budgets

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New academic-year budgets passed by South Side school districts reflect the coronavirus outbreak’s effect on student enrollment and tax revenues.

The Southside Independent School District adopted a $59.7 million general-fund budget for 2020-2021, with a 3% raise for all employees, and a pay — or step — increase for teachers.

Even so, district and campus administrators were asked to cut their department or section budgets.

“With this budget, we recognize the value of our staff,” district Chief Financial Officer Stanley Osborne said. “In these tough times, we’ve got people on the front lines.”

SISD is upping its total property-tax rate to $1.41 per $100 valuation from $1.40 last year. The district projects student enrollment will have steady to slower growth. General-fund revenues are projected at $60.6 million.

The district faces a decision regarding proposed improvements to existing campuses after canceling a $64 million bond issue previously scheduled for the Nov. 3 general election.

SISD officials expressed concern over increasing uncertainty caused by COVID-19’s impact to revenue streams.

The Harlandale Independent School District’s new general-fund budget projects $141.9 million in revenues and $145.3 million in expenses. Harlandale dipped into its fund balance to address the shortfall.

HISD, too, must confront unknowns created by the crisis. Last school year, the school system provided a 4% general pay increase based on the range midpoint.

“However, the current pandemic situation has resulted in uncertainty in future funding,” a budget executive summary reads.

Harlandale expects student enrollment to stay put or modestly decrease from 2019-2020, when 12,068 students were registered districtwide.

According to HISD officials, the new budget includes $470,000 in a step pay hike for teachers, but only this school year.

In addition, HISD reorganized departments and eliminated vacant positions to streamline its budget.

Harlandale dropped its total property-tax rate from $1.49 to $1.42 per $100 valuation.

The San Antonio Independent School District’s $498 million general-fund budget includes $3 million-plus in proposed incentives for high-performing teachers in high-needs areas.

SAISD is also continuing a $500 longevity stipend for all employees who’ve completed their 15th year of tenure.

The 2020-2021 financial plan assumes student enrollment will only slightly move from 48,500 in the last academic cycle to 48,547.

SAISD’s tax rate of $1.53 per $100 valuation is unchanged.

Trustee Steve Lecholop suggested district administrators start the budgeting process earlier in the school year, and adding transparency for easier access to data.

“We are doing really good things (in the district) and I want people to know, and not have to dig around the website and a large amount of documents to see that,” he said.

The district is asking voters to approve a $1.3 billion bond in the Nov. 3 election.

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