Frisco ISD leaders offered more than 50 recommendations this week to trim spending and generate additional revenue to help balance the budget and address cuts in state funding.
FISD has lost an average of $21 million per year, or a total of $105 million in state funding since 2011, while maintaining a tax rate below most neighboring districts.
The recommendations, presented one-by-one during Monday’s regular School Board meeting, would save the District a combined $9.5 million next school year if implemented. That’s almost $2 million less than what is needed to fully balance the 2017-18 budget, with additional strategies needed in future years to further address funding challenges.
Updated financial projections, which include more aggressive revenue assumptions, show a deficit of $16.2 million in 2018-19 and $17.4 million in 2019-20, even after carrying forward all of the cost-saving and revenue-generating recommendations.
“This budget changes Frisco ISD as we’ve known it in that it reduces both positions and services that are offered,” said Chief Financial Officer Kimberly Pickens. “But at the end of the day, we implemented a successful budget process that allowed us to keep our priorities intact and that’s completely due to the hard work of the staff and community members over the past eight months.”
The presentation incorporated the ideas of trustees, parents, employees and citizens, who shared feedback and invested their time and energy in helping to find budget solutions. Many of their ideas may still be implemented in future years.
District staff will work with School Board members between now and June to finalize the budget.
“There’s no question we have some tough decisions ahead,” said School Board President Anne McCausland. “This Board is committed to representing all citizens and stakeholders, and to ensuring that Frisco ISD – and the four cities we serve in Frisco, Little Elm, McKinney and Plano – remain among the best places in the country to raise and educate your children.”
Shared priorities throughout the process were to protect student learning and the District’s ability to recruit, retain and support an effective teacher in every classroom and an effective principal in every school.
The recommendations provide pay raises for staff, reduce central administration costs and ensure every teacher with good performance will have a job in Frisco ISD next school year. The most significant recommendations in terms of dollar impact would do the following:
- Provide a one percent raise to all staff in 2017-18 at an expense of $3.75 million – equal to one percent of the mid-point of each employee’s pay grade. Other recommendations would suspend matching contributions to voluntary retirement accounts, eliminate the monthly employee wellness benefit and replace the Masters Tuition Reimbursement Program with an incentive for teacher certification.
- Reduce central administrative costs by $1.88 million – achieved through budget cuts, reorganization, elimination of positions, termination of contracts, new fees and more
- Eliminate K-12 library aide positions and reduce technology specialist positions for a savings of $1.76 million – positions will be eliminated or reduced through attrition, elimination of at-will positions and reorganization
- Implement an operations fee for middle school and high school athletics to save $1.28 million – A per-student, per-year fee of $100 for middle school athletes and $200 for high school athletes would cover the costs of security, transportation, game officials and laundry. Allowances would be made for students needing assistance.
- Eliminate the contingency budget for new teacher allocations to save $1.2 million – this funding provides flexibility to hire new teachers based on growth. This recommendation, along with recommended adjustments to staffing guidelines, would result in larger class sizes.
- Utilize grant funding to the extent allowable for special education positions to save $1.2 million – this would maximize the use of federal grants and provide consistent and equitable staffing to campuses based on benchmarked staffing ratios
- Reduce the discretionary portion of the campus per pupil allotment (PPA) by 15 percent for a savings of $1 million – this funding is allocated by each school principal for various needs to run the campus, including classroom supplies, professional development and more
- Maximize charges for indirect costs of federal grant programs to the extent allowable for an impact of $1 million – the Child Nutrition Program would be charged for indirect costs incurred by the District to the maximum extent allowable
The full list of budget recommendations is available here. You can watch video of the budget discussion and presentation at this link or learn more about the budget development process here.
“These are not recommendations that staff members necessarily want to make,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jeremy Lyon. “But they are the best options we have based on the funds available and our commitment to work within those resources. These recommendations came from staff and community members, were discussed at length and vetted internally. The District looks forward to continuing to work together with the Board to make the best possible decisions for our students, teachers and community.”
The proposed 2017-18 budget, based on the presented recommendations, will be presented at the regular Board meeting on May 8. Adoption of the budget is set for June 19.
All presentations and action will take place during regularly scheduled School Board meetings, which begin at 7:30 p.m. at the FISD Administration Building, 5515 Ohio Drive. These meetings are also broadcast live online at http://friscoisdtx.swagit.com/live.