Kilgore ISD school board members and administrators discussed the budget for the 2019-2020 school year at a Monday meeting, going over state law changes and the district’s financial standing.
Topics discussed at the meeting included KISD historical data for past tax rates, student enrollment data, fund balances and property values, a review of KISD’s debt schedule, projected revenues and possible recommendations for salary/benefits packages for KISD for the 2019-20 school year and a review of HB3.
House Bill 3, called “a sweeping and historic school finance bill” by Texas Education Administration, was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott last month. It calls for significant changes to school funding in Texas, as well as property tax rate changes.
Among many other things, HB 3 mandates salary increases for Texas schoolteachers and certain other school staff members.
“It’s been a very interesting year in the budget world of Texas school districts. House Bill 3 and the Texas legislature really made some significant changes, probably the most historical changes in the history of Texas education,” said KISD Chief Financial Officer Revard Pfeffer.
Pfeffer allowed he had a conservative approach to school finance but had a positive opinion of the proposed budget.
“I think we’re bringing a very good budget to you tonight. I think you’ll like to see where we stand and there’s reasons why we’ve gotten where we’ve gotten.”
In an email following the meeting, Baker clarified what was meant by “a good outlook” in regards to the budget:
“(This) simply referred to the idea that our budget projections for the upcoming school year are coming together nicely. We believe our discussions with our district leaders and faculty about our 2019-20 district needs can be supported by the projected revenues that are expected to be coming into our district. In other words, we are expecting to have enough incoming revenue to support our expected expenditures for the new school year,” he wrote.
Baker pointed out everything discussed at the meeting was strictly “proposed.” Nothing in the budget is finalized at this point and further discussion will occur.
Among the items discussed was the possibility of state-mandated repayment of funds gained from repealed Local Optional Homestead Exemptions.
KISD is taking a proactive approach to this possibility in the proposed budget by setting aside funds gained from their eliminated LOHE.
“After this year, we’re going to have about $7.2 million sitting in the bank awaiting the results of that,” Pfeffer said.
By email, Baker elaborated on the complexity HB3 is bringing to budget discussion and planning.
“HB3 is is proving to be an unprecedented revamp of our Texas school funding. It is extremely complex and will take our Texas school districts months to completely understand how some of the new laws will directly affect our students and schools. While I share many of our state's school superintendent's uncertainty about the sustainability of the funding outlined in HB3, I do also believe the relief that it is bringing to both Kilgore ISD and our Bulldog Community is very welcome and appreciated.”
Following the meeting, Baker said the board and administration will continue to work on the proposed budget.
“After our discussion last night, we'll look to make some small changes and look to shore up some projected revenues and expenditure estimates so that I can make formal recommendations to the board concerning 2019-20 Employee Salary/Benefit Packages (expected to occur at our June 22nd regular board meeting), the recommended 2019-20 KISD Operational Budgets (expected to occur at our August 26th regular board meeting), and the recommended 2019-20 KISD Tax Rate (expected to also occur at our August 26th regular board meeting).”
The superintendent aims to present some budget recommendations at next Monday’s board meeting.
“I hope to be able to recommend to our school board our 2018-19 employee salary/benefit packages and hope to discuss the proposed KISD tax rate for 2019-20,” he wrote.
The Monday, July 22 board meeting will be held in the KISD Administration Building on N. Kilgore Street at 6 p.m.