Trustees See Initial Budget Reductions; Hear Options for Increasing Revenue

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The RISD Board of Trustees continued planning discussions leading up to the 2023-24 operating budget adoption expected in June. The district is facing a 2023-24 operating budget deficit based primarily on reduced enrollment and inflation, coupled with a lack of new funding from the state since before the pandemic. At the March regular meeting, trustees received information about reductions that have been made and efficiencies that will be realized through instructional changes. Trustees also heard specific information about possible ways for the district to increase revenue.

Highlights of the comprehensive presentation and discussion included:

  • The district has eliminated central staff positions in the current year that will reduce expenses moving forward by $1.2 million.
  • RISD is shifting its ESL delivery model in 2023-24 to improve student outcomes, and a byproduct of the more efficient model is a cost reduction of $2.3 million.
  • District departments and programs are adopting a modified zero-based budgeting model for 2023-24, with all requested expenditures requiring justification related to furthering student achievement and district goals.
  • The district has a significant amount of excess capacity at a number of campuses, and RISD’s elementary school model is among the least efficient among peer school districts, with the lowest average number of students per campus.
  • Trustees were presented student-to employee ratio data across different areas and job types as one tool to help identify areas where RISD may not operate as efficiently as peer school districts.
  • Additional proposed reductions for 2023-24 are anticipated as the budget planning process continues.

RISD has five basic options to increase revenue:

  • Increase student enrollment through implementation of an open enrollment option that would allow students residing outside of RISD boundaries to enroll in RISD schools with excess capacity.
  • Increase student enrollment by implementing additional choice programs to attract more families living within district boundaries to RISD.
  • An increase in state funding for school districts as a result of the current Texas legislative session. The per-student “basic allotment” that is provided by Texas to school districts has not increased since before the pandemic in 2019. Inflation, operating costs, and the cost of competitive teacher and staff salaries have continued to increase over that period.
  • Elimination of RISD’s Local Optional Homestead Exemption (LOHE), which is a way that RISD provides property tax relief to homeowners. RISD is one of three school district in Dallas County to still provide a LOHE, and no districts in Collin County provide it.
  • Placing a Voter Approved Tax Ratification Election (VATRE) before RISD voters to increase the operating tax rate. RISD’s current operating tax rate is determined by the state of Texas school funding formula and is presently at a 30 year low. A portion of any funds generated by RISD taxpayers through a VATRE would be sent to the state of Texas in the form of recapture.

Beyond the reductions and efficiencies already implemented, no decisions have been made regarding further reductions or any strategies to increase revenue. Please click here to watch the March budget planning presentation and discussion, and click here to view previous summaries of 2023-24 budget planning discussions. Trustees will continue budget planning efforts at upcoming meetings.

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