A series of Budget Town Hall listening sessions concluded on Feb. 23. A new format was introduced, creating space for more authentic, organic conversations. To ensure the dialogue was guided by the values and interests of participants, meetings were facilitated with the use of real-time polling technology.
Participants were given the opportunity to ask questions of Austin ISD leaders and share feedback around proposed changes to the budget, including the district’s academic investments. Key themes that surfaced during the Town Hall meetings included staff and teacher compensation, equity, school consolidations, repurposing and boundaries, and the need to get more people engaged in the conversation. The feedback will be used to continue shaping the preliminary 2019-20 budget and future austerity planning.
Here are three things to know as the budget development moves forward:
- The presentation of the 2019-20 Fiscal Forecast and potential changes to the budget can be found on the BoardDocs website. A preliminary budget will be presented to the Board of Trustees in April, followed by the second round of budget engagement. The district will provide a look into the preliminary 2019-20 budget proposal and updates on the Texas 86th legislative session. Engagement opportunities will be designed to get final feedback on the proposed budget before the recommended budget is presented in June.
- District administration continues to reconcile the work of the Budget Stabilization Task Force with its austerity planning. Some of the BSTF recommendations have already been set in motion including reductions in central departments, transportation and information technology. Other recommendations will require further analysis by the district in collaboration with the standing Budget and Finance Advisory Committee. AISD leaders are overseeing the exploration and vetting of the recommendations and are preparing a formal, line-item response that will be completed later this spring.
- As the Texas 86th legislative session progresses, legislators are signaling a willingness to overhaul the state school finance system. On March 5, Chairman Huberty and 99 joint authors and co-authors filed House Bill 3, which would put an additional $9 billion into school finance reform and property tax relief statewide over the next two years. Preliminary estimates show that Austin ISD could gain additional per-student funding and a significant reduction in its recapture payment. While the initial proposal is encouraging, estimates are subject to change as the bill is refined through the hearing process. If you would like to receive the district's weekly legislative update, email IGR@austinisd.org.