The board of trustees approved the $133.4 million budget at the June 22 school board meeting. But with property values going up, state funding for public education is going down, making balancing the budget a little more of a challenge each year.
Three elements determine how a school district generates revenue, which determines the budget — property values, the proposed tax rate and average daily attendance. The official tax rate for the 2022-2023 fiscal year is still pending until the Hidalgo County Appraisal District releases the certified property values after July 25. In the meantime, the district used the current tax rate of $1.1593 per $100 valuation to determine the budget for the next school year.
However, the appraisal district did release preliminary values on April 22. Based on those preliminary numbers, SISD estimated a 4 percent increase in property values from last year. Sharyland residents have continued to see property values increase since the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
“To taxpayers that have talked to me about, ‘Gosh our taxes are going up, our valuations are going up and therefore the school district by definition should be flushed with money.’ Without getting into all the intricacies of school funding, there is an inverse relationship between the amount that we collect from our taxpayers and the amount that the state is willing to provide us to educate our kids,” trustee Ricky Longoria said. “So, yes, your taxes and your contribution may be going higher, but that, unfortunately, is being offset by the state’s contribution to us.”
As far as average daily attendance, Sharyland used a projection of 9,200 ADA to determine the $133.4 million budget for the upcoming year. For the 2021-2022 school year, the district projected 9,400 but ended up with an ADA of 8881 due to the COVID impact. Even then, 9,400 was the lowest ADA Sharyland had seen in six years.
Because average daily attendance helps calculate state revenue, the district loses money each time a child is absent.
“I know folks come talk to me about enrollment. Enrollment is important too, but having students come to school is even more important than enrollment. Not just from a financial perspective for the district but also just the educational process,” Longoria said. “We need kids back in our schools.”
Despite the increase in property values and lower projected ADA, the budget for the upcoming school year is still greater than last year’s budget of $129.2 million.
In addition to approving the budget, the trustees also approved an increase in employee compensation across the board. Teachers and librarians will receive a 4 percent increase in salary, which equals about a $2,400 raise. Administration professionals will receive a 3 percent increase from the midpoint. And hourly employees — instructional support, clerical and technical support and auxiliary — will receive an increase of $1 per hour or anywhere from a 4 to 8 percent increase.
Following executive session, the board authorized an additional year on Dr. Maria Vidaurri’s contract as superintendent for the school district, which now expires June 30, 2025.
The board also unanimously voted to authorize Vidaurri to proceed with adopting security measures to prepare for the start of the 2022-2023 school year.
Tuesday, SISD held a town hall meeting to discuss the security and safety of the district, consisting of about three hours of open dialogue with community members. Longoria explained the authorization means to include “whatever it takes” to secure the schools in a better way than they are currently, including ensuring armed guards at every elementary school. Trustee Alejandro Rodriguez expanded on Longoria’s thoughts.
“Based on those comments during the town hall meeting last night, that was something that came up wholeheartedly from our parents, and that’s something we’re certainly willing to do as a district,” Rodriguez said.