The Budget Stabilization Task Force extended its meeting timeline, reviewed information on staffing and spoke further about equity in Austin ISD at its fourth meeting Aug. 15. The group has begun the work to identify 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 also expected to have budget shortfalls in the future.
Here are three things to know as the task force moves forward.
The task force extended its working timeline until Nov. 7 with bi-monthly meetings to learn more about the district’s budget. Future meetings will delve into various departments, including transportation, energy management, academics and technology. Through these focused meetings, the task force will have opportunities to speak directly with department leadership about spending and possible reductions and outstanding needs.
Equity has been an ongoing discussion as part of the task force meetings. An exercise on what equity looks like to each member provided an opportunity for group discussion and sharing how equity could be further realized in AISD. Themes that came up included culturally responsive schools, student voice and ensuring that opportunities and outcomes are not predictable based on neighborhood or zip code. During the staffing presentation by the AISD Human Capital team, the task force learned of one way the district is supporting professional growth in teachers. AISD has more nationally board certified educators than any school district in Texas and AISD has focused on mentoring teachers across the district to ensure highly qualified teachers are available to all students.
Did you know payroll accounts for 86 percent of the district's general fund operating budget? The task force learned that staffing formulas are essential to building budgets for campuses. AISD sets student to teacher ratios for grade levels to best support learning and staffing allocations are based on those formulas. For example, AISD aims to have a 22:1 ratio for kindergarten through fourth grade classes and a 29:1 ratio for secondary classes. The Task Force agreed further exploration was needed to better understand how changes in staffing guidelines could impact student achievement.
Learn more about the presentations, questions and discussion during the meeting at the BSTF website.