As many families feel the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Frisco ISD is also bracing for the impact of a recession.
FISD is anticipating a slowdown in enrollment growth and taxable value growth within the District’s boundaries.
The District is also preparing for the likelihood of state cuts to public education as a result of the economic downturn and impact on sales tax collections and oil and gas revenue. In 2011, the state legislature cut funding to schools across the state by $5.4 billion, so it is financially prudent to plan for cuts during this recession.
In addition, Frisco ISD expects to move more cautiously with construction of new schools, including high school #12, to allow more time to monitor enrollment trends before committing to new projects which also come with significant staffing costs.
Even with reduced revenue expected over the next few years, Frisco ISD is fortunate to have maintained a healthy fund balance that can be leveraged to help balance the budget.
FISD will not have to consider furloughing any employees in the wake of COVID-19 and is proposing an increase in employee compensation as well as added staff for the 2020-21 school year. The $600 million proposed budget also includes a cushion should revenue come in lower than expected.
“All of the budget recommendations we are proposing are designed to be sustainable,” said Chief Financial Officer Kimberly Smith. “Thanks to responsible and prudent management, we have resources available to address the impact of this crisis, including funding shortfalls."
The 2020-21 proposed budget will allow FISD to maintain current class sizes and add new teachers and staff to address the needs of growth. That includes investments to expand Pre-Kindergarten from a half- to full-day program for eligible families, provide additional support for special education students and offer more assistance to students in identifying academic pathways based on their goals and interests.
In addition, the 2020-21 budget includes four recommendations based on a comprehensive study of fees charged to students for various courses and activities. The review analyzed the types of fees being charged, whether they were required or mandatory and whether the fee was consistent with District guidelines, if applicable. Efforts were then made to examine the reasonableness of each fee and whether it should be maintained, changed or eliminated.
While the study did not recommend any changes to optional fees since they are discretionary, it did result in four specific recommendations proposed as part of the 2020-21 budget:
Increase the District’s secondary fine arts budget to reduce out-of-pocket expenses that families pay to booster clubs to support student participation. The proposed increase is not intended to eliminate fundraising.
Add a high school Theater Productions course fee in the 2021-22 school year to create consistency among campuses
Create a consistent fee structure for middle school fine arts programs that can be implemented during the 2021-22 school year based on increased District funding
Indefinitely suspend the athletics operational fee for middle and high school students. The fee was not assessed during the 2019-20 school year.
Click here to read more about the implications of the student fee study.
The proposed budget also includes a special payment to recognize employees for their efforts during the school closure and to provide assistance for the use of personal equipment and supplies while working remotely. If approved by the Board on June 8, the FISD C.A.R.E.S. or Coronavirus Assistance and Recognition of Effort Stipend would be paid July 15 to all employees who worked for the District as of March 1 and are still employed May 28. The stipend would be equal to 1.5% of base wages for a total cost of approximately $5.75 million.
The District is also proposing a $1,000 raise for all employees on the teacher pay scale in 2020-21 and a 1.5% of midpoint raise for all other staff. When factoring in additional market adjustments, the average total percent increase in base wages is 3.3% for teachers, 4.64% for clerical/paraprofessionals and 7.03% for auxiliary employees such as bus drivers, custodians and maintenance workers.
In addition, the financial plan continues to provide funding for a classroom and teaching supplies stipend of $250, paid to teachers, teacher facilitators and librarians on Sept. 15, as well as a retention incentive in January 2021 for all employees with at least one year of service to the District. The retention incentive is equal to 1% of base wages, plus $50 for each year of service to FISD, with a minimum of $250 total.
The starting teacher salary would also be increased from $54,500 to $54,900 under the proposed budget, and the District would boost the minimum hourly wage for hard-to-fill positions such as bus drivers, custodians and special education paraprofessionals.
A public hearing and adoption of the budget is set for June 22. The District’s 2020 tax rate will be finalized in September after taxable values are certified and the state provides guidance on the District’s tax rate based on changes adopted by the legislature last year as part of House Bill 3.
Click here to learn more about the proposed 2020-21 budget or watch video online from Wednesday’s Board meeting.