The Killeen Independent School District Board of Trustees discussed the 2018-2019 budget agenda in a workshop Tuesday.
Superintendent John Craft said student enrollment has grown more than 1 percent in 18 of the past 20 academic years, calling student body growth a driving factor for the annual budgeting process.
While KISD has been using a projected growth increase of just 1 percent, the district expects an uptick of student enrollment around 1.29 percent. The low-ball figure, Craft said, is meant to avoid overestimation in annual state funding.
“We’re using a conservative projection,” Craft said. “It’s not ultra conservative, but we want to make sure we’re not overestimating our revenues.”
Enrollment for the 2018-2019 school year is anticipated to expand to 44,891 students, up from 44,607 students enrolled for the current school year. The proposed budget last year was $382 million in revenue and $378 million in expenditures.
While no hard-figure budget estimations were presented, chief financial officer Megan Bradley outlined preliminary revenue and expenditure assumptions. A key talking point revolved around the federal Impact Aid budget general fund revenue remaining flat compared to the prior fiscal year.
Another factor affecting next year’s budget will be KISD’s inability to keep up with the state’s 7.4 percent growth in property value.
“We’re actually going to be losing money,” Bradley said regarding state funding being dependent on property growth.
The trustees said they are always hoping large businesses or commercial entities come to town, as their presence would raise local property value. Craft said that in order to stay in line with the state’s 7.4 percent growth rate, something “pretty significant” would have to happen.
Maintenance and operations tax rate remaining at $1.04, payroll costs and curriculum expenditures were also assumptions considered in the preliminary budget talks.
The board also reviewed personnel staffing updates, with the majority of discussion touching on recruiting and retaining KISD bus drivers.
There were 52 bus driver vacancies last summer. As of Feb. 20, there are 50 bus driver vacancies. Moreover, most bus drivers have less than a year of experience.
“We’re constantly hiring new drivers,” said Steve Cook, chief human resources officer.
Lower pay compared to retailers who hire from the same human resource pool convinces many drivers to leave, according to Cook, despite the district’s efforts to increase starting bus driver pay by $1.48 per hour over the past two years.
The total teacher allocations for the 2018-2019 school year are increasing by 28 with class size ratios unchanged (22:1 for grades PK-4 and 23:1 for grades 5-12).
In other business, the board reviewed a bond counsel engagement letter with international law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP of Austin, which lists the services to be provided by the firm regarding the sale of bonds, if approved by voters in the upcoming May 5 municipal election.
The letter will be added to the consent agenda in the next Board of Trustees meeting March 6.
The firm would charge KISD a minimum fee of $20,000 for each sale of bonds, or $1 per each $1,000 in proceeds, up to $50 million — which would potentially be $50,000 in fees.
Also Tuesday, the board discussed updates to the policy manual in the areas of employment, student safety and community relations, among others. The revisions include several revisions to enhance accessibility for people with disabilities.
Hiring a civil engineer to make renovations to the Harker Heights High School marching band practice area, which experiences regular ponding and flooding, was also discussed. Fees for the civil engineer are not to exceed $5,000. No estimate is available yet for the actual renovations.
Executive director for facilities services Adam Rich said the flooding was just brought to his attention.
The board will consider this in the March 6 consent agenda.