Budget Briefs: Task Force Approves Subcommittee, Digs Into Budget Data

The Budget Stabilization Task Force approved the creation of a subcommittee and began digging into the budget data, including student and staff funding, at its third meeting July 30. The group continues its monthslong process to identify creative strategies to close the budget deficit and review district spending, after the Board of Trustees approved the latest budget with a $29 million dip into reserves. The district is expected to have a budget deficit of more than $70 million by the 2020-21 school year.

Here are three things to know as the task force moves forward.

  1. At the meeting, a subcommittee to study district contracts and vendors was created. The subcommittee will review data on contractors the district hires and review the efficiencies of spending.

  1. While the district is facing a growing deficit, it’s important to note ways the budget has already been reduced while also funding initiatives to reinvent the urban school experience such as safety, literacy and college and career programs. Salaries and benefits account for 86 percent or $672 million dollars of the AISD budget each year, excluding recapture. During the 2018-19 budget, major payroll adjustments were made, totaling a $3.1 million cut. Further reductions include the closing of Lucy Read Pre-Kindergarten School. District administrators also cut $14.3 million in non-payroll areas of the budget — netting a total of $17.4 million in reductions for the latest budget. During a presentation from Travis Zander, director of budget and planning, the BSTF learned that budgets and staffing are largely based on school enrollment.

  1. The task force also learned that each principal (or campus administration) has autonomy over its budget? AISD is comprised of 130 campuses and it’s not one size fits all when it comes to staffing or programming. That’s why each campus receives a budget based on student enrollment and demographics and is allowed to develop its budget in collaboration with its campus advisory committee. The BSTF will learn more about staffing formulas at its Aug. 15 meeting.

The task force also discussed the possibility of extending the meetings until November to complete the work and worked in small groups to identify guiding principles that will help them vet potential options.  Learn more about the presentations, questions and discussion during the meeting at the BSTF website.