By Moses Leos III
Facing a potential $2.8 million dollar shortfall next school year, Hays CISD could soon start the process of tightening its belt in order to balance their budget.
But with appraised values from the Hays County Central Appraisal District (CAD) not expected to come in until the end of May, Hays CISD Public Information Officer Tim Savoy said the district’s budget is still fluctuating.
“The budget is most definitely a work in progress,” Savoy said. “There are place holders on what we’re hoping and expecting to receive for revenue, but some won’t be filled until later this summer.”
During Monday’s school board agenda workshop meeting, Hays CISD finance director Annette Folmar said the Hays County CAD has not yet released appraised values.
Folmar said the appraisal values were the “only wild card” when it came to the budget. She said the Memorial Day and Halloween floods of 2015 have affected the released of appraisal values from the CAD.
“We’ve never had a delay of this magnitude,” Folmar said.
She said the district was working hard to get better numbers, but it wasn’t comfortable in giving any proposals in the amount of revenue until those values come in.
The district has so far worked with projections on the increase in appraised value. The projections range from $600 million to $800 million increase.
But even with an $800 million appraised value increase, the budget still would fall $2.3 million short.
Currently, Hays CISD has budgeted roughly $149.5 million in expenditures for fiscal year 2016.
That includes $2.7 million for 40 additional full-time teaching employees for growth and eight special education teaching positions.
School board trustee Holly Raymond was concerned there wasn’t a scenario that shows the district could have a balanced budget.
“I’m not sure if we can get it to a pure balanced budget for (fiscal year) 16-17,” Folmar said.
According to Raymond, the “message was clear” that the school board wanted a balanced budget. She said it was something the district worked hard to get last year.
“I’m not sure how we got away from that,” Raymond said.
School board trustee Teresa Tobias said it would be a “great accomplishment” to have a balanced budget, but wasn’t sure how the district could get there.
“We’ve already released a lot of positions (from the budget),” Tobias said. “I think most of us would love to see a balanced budget.”
Trustee Bert Bronaugh said cutting areas that affect teaching would be “counter-productive.”
“A balanced budget is the goal,” Bronough said. “I’d like to see that.”
Hays CISD reacts to state Supreme Court ruling
“Disappointed” was the reaction from Hays CISD following the Texas State Supreme Court’s May 13 ruling of 2011 changes toward funding public schools as constitutional, Savoy said.
In 2011, Texas lawmakers cut more than $4 billion from educational funding to cover a shortfall. The move led more than 600 school districts to file a lawsuit against the state, saying the state’s public school funding system was unconstitutional.
But according to the State Supreme Court, the funding system, while imperfect, was adequate to satisfy constitutional mandates to support public schools.
Savoy said the district was disappointed the court didn’t rule in its favor.
He said Hays CISD is $7 million behind what they would have been funded if the state hadn’t changed funding in 2011.
“We don’t believe that the funding is adequate for what the needs of the students are and it reflects on the revenue we would have had if there had not been changes,” Savoy said.
He added $7 million is a “significant amount of money.”
“We’ll continue to offer top quality programs and services and opportunities within the budget, but $7 million is quite a bit (to lose),” Savoy said.