This article originally ran in the July 1 issue of Progress Times.
The Mission CISD board of trustees approved a $174.6 million budget for the upcoming school year, which is about $14.7 million less than last year’s budget.
For months, the district’s finance division has kept an eye on how the budget would look for the upcoming school year because they noticed a lower attendance rate in the 2021-2022 school year. In Texas, a lower average daily attendance from the previous year means less state funding for the following year.
Last year, Mission CISD projected their 21-22 budget based on an ADA of 13,822. But instead, the district closed out the year with an attendance of 12,365 due to the pandemic-related absences.
This year, the district created its budget based on an average daily attendance of 12,764, which did cause the budget total to dip compared to last year. But Mission CISD has already been looking into gaining more enrollment and attendance to increase revenue and reduce learning loss. The strategies include but are not limited to student recruitment events, door-to-door recruitment, continuing attendance incentives and reducing staffing through attrition.
But attendance is not the only way school districts receive revenue; two other elements help calculate the district’s budget — property values and tax rate. The Hidalgo County Appraisal District certifies property values, but legislation mandates the tax rate.
The official tax rate for the 2022-2023 fiscal year is still pending until the Hidalgo County Appraisal District releases the certified property values, which will not be until July 25. However, the appraisal district did release preliminary values in April. Based on those values, combined with the state aid formulas, the district finance department predicts a tax rate of $1.113 per $100 valuation — 2 cents lower than last year’s rate. But the board of trustees will not vote to approve any new tax rate until August.
Although the total budget is $174,633,610, it is divided into two funds — general and debt service. The general fund is the district’s main money pool which has about $166.1 million. The debt service fund, which Mission CISD can only utilize to make payments on bonds, has about $8.4 million. The district does not use the general fund to pay debt payments.
And at the June 8 board meeting, the trustees approved $18.4 million for the committed fund balance, which is a fund designated for a specific purpose — in this case, construction projects. The district has 47 construction projects that started in the 21-22 school year and will continue into the 22-23 school year. The approximate cost of the construction is $18.4 million.
Additionally, the district utilizes grant funding to maximize the budget. Superintendent Dr. Carol Perez, a self-proclaimed “queen of grants,” made grant writing a priority when she came to Mission CISD in 2018. The grant total in 2018 was $282,053, but the number has continued to trend upward in the last four years to reach about $6.5 million this year.
“We got to capitalize on mega grants,” Perez said. “And that has gone straight to student achievement and making an impact in professional development and academic achievement so that our children have the tools, in addition to what the district provides and enhance the programming that we have.”