“This article appeared in the July 2 issue of the Progress Times.”
Following a public hearing on June 22, the SISD board of trustees approved the $129,223,777 budget for the upcoming school year.
There was a 2 percent decrease in total revenues from the last school year because of a decrease in average daily attendance, which is just one element that plays a part in how the district generates revenue. The projected ADA for the upcoming school year is 9,400, which is the lowest Sharyland has had in at least the last six years.
The other funding elements include property values and the proposed tax rate. This year’s preliminary proposed tax rate of $1.1834 was not up for approval because the values are pending certification from the Hidalgo County Appraisal District. Executive Director of Finance Jaime Ortega said the certified values should be approved in late July. SISD’s administration will then bring the tax rate back to the school board for approval.
In a breakdown showing the proposed expenditures of all funds by function, Ortega reported that 48.5 percent of all costs would go to instruction and 26.2 percent would go to student support services.
The official budget is broken up into three funds — general, food service, and debt service. But the general fund is the district’s main money pool, which is composed of the athletic fund, the music fund, school health and related services, and scoreboard production. The estimated revenue for the general fund is about $100.7 million for the 2021-2022 school year.
Ortega also gave a breakdown of the general fund and stated that 80 percent of the budget would go to payroll costs — about $81.3 million. Trustee Ricky Longoria said he had Ortega put together a proposal for how many people the district has employed in the past in comparison to now.
“You’ll see, going back to the year 2015, even though the student population has been declining, the number of employees has been increasing to the tune of almost 100 more employees now than we did five years ago,” Longoria said.
The trustee cited jumps in the employee population when Pioneer High School opened in 2014 and when Sharyland Advanced Academic Academy opened. However, the biggest increase has come from auxiliary staff.
“So what’s the point of having that information,” Longoria said. “It really doesn’t have that much to do with this year’s budget because we’re pretty far along; I think we’re going to move forward with what we’ve got. But as we move forward, I do think as we become more critical of our budget, depending on what the student enrollment is, things may get tighter and it’s just obvious to always keep looking at the biggest number in the budget, which is that 80 percent number of salary costs.”
Ortega said he and his team are still reviewing why auxiliary has had the largest increase and will report his findings.
“I’m not suggesting at all that we have the wrong number of employees,” Longoria continued. “I just think that we need to make sure that we all collectively understand why we have that number versus another number.”
The approved budget of $129.2 million is in effect July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022.