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Savings Strategies Result in Balanced 2017-18 Budget

Jun 20, 2017

The Frisco ISD Board of Trustees approved a 2017-18 budget Monday that prioritizes the long-term sustainability of the District, while incorporating strategies that have limited or no impact on student learning.

The $473.5 million budget is the result of months of work by employees, parents and citizens who examined previous practices and spending. Input and feedback from the Priorities-Based Budget (PBB) process reinforced existing priorities such as a focus on teaching and learning, commitment to the classroom and desire to maintain competitive staff salaries.

“Balancing the needs of students, parents, staff and taxpayers with available resources is a demanding process and one that we do not take lightly,” said outgoing Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Lyon. “This budget represents a realistic, sustainable plan to address the challenges we face as a public school district. Frisco ISD will continue to face difficult financial decisions in the coming years, and we strive to approach every decision with a student-centered focus.”

The approved budget prioritizes teacher pay and includes nearly 60 strategies to reduce costs and generate additional revenue including:

  • Reducing central administrative costs by $1.88 million – achieved through budget cuts, reorganization, elimination of positions, termination of contracts, new fees and more
  • Eliminating K-12 library aide positions and reducing 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
  • Implementing 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 will help offset the costs of security, transportation, game officials and laundry. Allowances will be made for students and families who need financial assistance.
  • Eliminating the contingency budget for new teacher allocations to save $1.2 million – along with adjustments to staffing guidelines, this strategy will result in larger class sizes.

The budget also provides a two percent pay raise for employees to address concerns about rising health care costs and increasing salaries across the region. District contributions to medical premiums and the state pension plan will remain the same, while matching contributions to voluntary retirement accounts will be suspended under the approved budget.

“The need to remain competitive in terms of compensation is really critical to the long-term health of this district,” said Chief Financial Officer Kimberly Pickens. “The savings identified through the PBB process, as well as some additional money that we got through the Austin yield, allowed us to reprioritize some of our spending and accommodate the two percent raise for staff for next year.”

Significant savings will also be achieved through the decision to delay the opening of four new schools until August 2018. The District will save more than $15 million in staff salaries by waiting a year to welcome students into Memorial High School, Lawler Middle School, Liscano Elementary and Talley Elementary, which will be completed later this summer.

FISD made reductions in staff travel and professional development, as well as closely scrutinizing staff hiring, to achieve savings during the 2016-17 school year.

“The parents, the community members and the taxpayers spoke in August,” said new Board President John Classe. “We didn’t waste any time and we rolled up our sleeves… A little bit of revenue help and a whole lot of finding opportunities and there is shared sacrifice across the board. I am proud that we were able to prioritize teachers. We went from thinking that a raise would not be possible at all to being able to prioritize a two percent raise.”

Board members thanked staff and community stakeholders for their contributions in helping build a balanced budget, while acknowledging the impact of their decisions and more work to do in coming years.

“We are faced with some difficult choices and difficult decisions,” said outgoing Board President Anne McCausland. “But at the same time, we are expected to be able to provide the same type of opportunities and the same offerings that we have as a District.”

The 2017-18 budget is based on a projected enrollment of 58,687 students, as well as a tax rate of $1.46 per $100 valuation, the same since 2012. A tax rate of $1.50 would be needed to maintain the same level of maintenance and operations (M&O) revenue and debt service as last year.

Even though the tax rate is staying the same, Frisco ISD residents will pay more in taxes in 2017-18 due to rising property values. But because FISD does not retain additional funds from rising property values to support the operating budget, taxpayers will just pay a larger portion of the funds necessary to satisfy the budget, while the state reduces its share proportionally.

See the full list of strategies incorporated into the budget at www.friscoisd.org/budget.

Other Board Action

Monday’s Board meeting also included administering the oath of office to trustees Anne McCausland and Debbie Gillespie, who were re-elected in May. Afterwards, the Board selected new leaders for the 2017-18 school year, naming John Classe as Board president, Chad Rudy as vice president and Anne McCausland as secretary.

Trustees then took time to recognize several student and staff accomplishments, as well as the inaugural class of FISD Insight, an outreach program piloted this spring to provide stakeholders with a behind-the-scenes look at District operations.

They also approved the purchase of a new timekeeping system to track staff work hours, absences, leave and compensatory time. Implementation of the new system will increase efficiency and effectiveness by reducing the manual workload of staff and streamlining procedures.

Click here to watch video of the Board meeting or learn more in the Board book

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