The Frisco ISD Board of Trustees approved several amendments to the 2018-19 operating budget following voter approval of November’s Tax Ratification Election (TRE).
Although the election did not change the total property tax rate, it did increase the portion of the tax rate that pays for maintenance and operations (M&O) by 13 cents. The portion of the tax rate that pays off debt was reduced to offset the increase. Overall, taxpayers are seeing a two-cent decrease to the tax rate in 2018.
The higher M&O tax rate is projected to generate an additional $35 million for daily operations this fiscal year. On Monday, trustees agreed to spend a large chunk of that money on priorities outlined to voters, including smaller class sizes, improved pay for staff, additional technology and enhanced STEM programming.
“All along, we said that if the TRE passed, we would look at needs that could be addressed immediately,” said Chief Financial Officer Kimberly Smith. “There are many recommendations still being discussed that we anticipate implementing in future budgets, but these are the items that we can address rather quickly and easily this school year.”
Funded items include:
75 new regular and special education teacher allocations to address current needs and reduce class size in spring 2019
Five additional technology support positions to address current demand
Additional technology for schools receiving new equipment in summer 2019, beginning the rollout of the new 1:1 student-to-technology ratio a year early
Robotics kits for elementary Gifted and Talented (GT) programs, plus additional kits for middle school robotics programs that have more interest than equipment available
The Board also earmarked revenue to fund two different staff incentives for the next five years, including one stipend that will be paid to teachers and librarians starting in January 2019.
$250 classroom and teaching supplies stipend to promote recruitment and retention and help cover out-of-pocket expenses; to be paid initially in January 2019 and then annually in September of each school year as long as funds are available
A retention incentive equal to 1 percent of an employee’s base salary plus $50 for every year of service with FISD, with a minimum of $250 total; to be paid each January starting in 2020 as long as funds are available
These incentives are in addition to annual staff raises, which are included in current financial plans at 3 percent a year.
A subcommittee of the Frisco ISD Long-Range Planning Committee will spend the next few months providing feedback to the District as it develops its 2019-20 budget, which will include many of the operating recommendations made prior to the election. Those recommendations not included will be evaluated for future budgets as funds allow. Approval of the 2019-20 budget is set for June.
As the school year progresses, staff will continue to monitor any immediate District needs and may still bring additional 2018-19 budget amendments to the Board for consideration.
See Monday’s School Board update on the 2018-19 budget.