As RISD begins the budget process for the 2023-24 school year, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Support Services David Pate told trustees that the district’s maintenance and operations tax rate of $0.9646 per $100 of assessed taxable value is the lowest it’s been in 30 years.
The state of Texas sets the operating tax rate annually for school districts based on a school finance formula that includes the number of students attending school each day and assessments of property values within a school district. Typically, if property values increase, the tax rate will decrease, with the opposite occurring if property values decrease. Actual certified values in RISD in 2022 ended up 11.6% from a year earlier. The portion of RISD’s tax rate used to pay principal and interest on bonds approved by voters, known as the debt service tax rate, remains unchanged at $0.35.
As staff and trustees begin to consider next year’s operating budget, a number of factors will impact planning:
- The district begins the process facing a projected shortfall of approximately $26 million, primarily due to a deficit budget adopted last year that used some one time funds to increase compensation for teachers and staff.
- Entering a legislative year, RISD and many school districts are requesting the state use a portion of the state’s surplus to increase the basic student allotment under the school finance system, meaning an increase in state funding for schools that are facing inflation and increased costs for items like energy, fuel, insurance and materials. The state has not increased the basic allotment for schools in four years.
- RISD will seek additional ways to save costs through more efficient operations, and also seek ways to increase revenue through increasing student enrollment.
- The current strategic planning process involving community, students and staff will result in district priorities that could impact budget planning in current and future years.
“In this cycle, I recommend the only new budget considerations be prioritizing staff compensation and benefits,” said RISD Superintendent Tabitha Branum. “We can approach the projected deficit by creating additional capacity through further efficiencies, and also exploring ways to increase revenue.”
Staff and trustees will continue with 2023-24 budget planning at meetings throughout the semester, leading up to a budget adoption in June.