As schools across Texas gear up for the new school year and the second year of the biennium, many districts, including Weatherford ISD, have been reviewing budget information to see where they fall.
For Weatherford, that includes about a $7 million total loss from state funding cuts as well as the loss of the Educate Jobs funds, which represented about $1.2 million.
“The majority was the cut in state funding, but part of that is also in relation to a little decline in property values last year as well as a drop in students,” Weatherford ISD assistant superintendent for business and operations Tracy Ray said. “It wasn’t just the state funding — all of those variables pushed it around.”
Ray said that enrollment numbers for Weatherford ISD have been flat the last three years on average, and last year were down a little.
“We’re really looking forward to September and looking forward to seeing what our enrollment numbers for this year will be,” she said.
Earlier this month, Ray presented a proposed budget to the school board and trustees voted to publish the information, which includes maintaining the same tax rate as last year at $1.17 for Maintenance and Operations and $.23 for Interest and Sinking, at a total for $1.40 per $100 valuation.
A public hearing date for discussion of the tax rate and budget is set for Thursday at 6 p.m. in the district services building.
“There were a couple of components that were different [from last year’s budget] but everything else was pretty much the norm,” Weatherford ISD superintendent Jeffrey Hanks said.
Ray took into account a considered salary increase for staff, including a 2.5 percent increase of the midpoint for teachers which amounts to an average increase of $1,200 per teacher, a 2.5 percent increase for auxiliary employees and a 1 percent increase for administrators.
“One thing that is exciting is the proposed addition for teachers and staff,” Hanks said. “They’ve worked extra hard, and $1,200 on a teacher is only about $100 per month but we hope that they understand that the board and the staff appreciate their efforts.
“It’s not something that a lot of districts are doing right now.”
Last year, the district tightened its belt to meet the financial guidelines handed down by the state legislature, including reducing 13 and a half positions through attrition going into the 2012-13 school year.
“We have squeezed every piece of the budget to get as lean as we can,” Hanks said.
The Texas Legislature will have its next session Jan. 8 to decide, among other things, the next direction for school funding. With several unknowns, Hanks said he and his team will continue to proceed with the same approach they’ve taken.
“We can assume that we’ll be where we are now or something more conservative than we are now,” he said. “I just don’t know how the state can find an additional funding source for public schools.”