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Budget Briefs: Task Force Appoints Tri-chairs, Receives Finance Overview

The Budget Stabilization task force gathered for its second meeting July 16 to appoint tri-chairs and receive an overview of school finance in Texas and Austin ISD. 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.

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

  1. Kevin Garcia, an AISD staff member; Claire Milam, an AISD parent; and Robert Thomas, an AISD community member, were selected by their peers to serve as tri-chairs.

  1. Texas school finance law puts pressure on the district’s budget with outdated funding formulas and recapture payments. Did you know AISD sends nearly half of all local tax dollars to the state’s general fund? During a presentation from David Edgar, executive director of financial services, the BSTF learned the history of legislation, funding formulas and the effects of recapture on AISD’s ability to fund its schools. The presentation also included the fact that the cost of education index has not been updated since 1991, meaning the state is operating under the assumption that it takes the same amount of money to education a student in Austin today as it did in 1991. Twenty-seven years ago, Austin had a population of just under 510,000 people. Now, Austin has grown to a city of more than 950,000 and is a destination for new companies and families who want quality public education.

  1. Despite how the state taxes AISD resources, our team is doing its best to reinvent the urban school experience. If we want to see a greater investment from the state in our public schools, it is essential to have a seat at the table. Nicole Conley Johnson, chief of business and operations, was appointed to serve on the Texas Commission on Public School Finance to help recommend ways legislators can reform and improve the state’s system for public education funding. But she can’t do it alone. During an update on the commission’s work to the BSTF, Conley Johnson stressed how important constituent voices can be and encouraged the group to make their voices heard during the 2019 legislative session.

The task force had robust discussion on strategies and approaches to fulfill its charge, including options to extend the timeline needed to complete work. Learn more about the presentations, questions and discussion during the meeting at the BSTF website.