Frisco ISD’s Growing Pains

Budget recommendations presented to school board

Laura Nicolescu, Co-Editor-In-Chief

FISD school board members, staff and parents received their first look at the proposed 2017-2018 budget Monday evening.

For the last eight months, a group of 28 parents, staff and community members has worked on a priorities-based budget to find ways to save money or generate additional revenue for a district facing a $30 million shortfall by 2020.

FISD’s two main sources of revenue are property taxes and state funding set by the legislature. District voters, however, declined in August to raise the property tax rate 13 cents to help pay for day-to-day operations.

The board was presented with an idea to eliminate all library aide positions, which would save $750,000. Reducing the budget for internet maintenance by cutting technology specialist jobs would save about $500,000. In addition, getting rid of the ninth-grade PSAT test would save $32,000. There was even a plan floated to have some students do janitorial work, and a proposal to raise the prices for adult ticket sales at high school and middle school events. 

Ideas also included implementing an operations fee for middle school and high school athletics and eliminating funding for national travel for academic competitions.

But at the top of the list is a proposal to slash the “per pupil allotment” by 15 percent. For example, the school district would spend $89 on each elementary school student instead of $105. High school students currently receive $155 of spending, but that would be reduced to $130 per student. This plan would shave about one million off the budget.

Teachers, meanwhile, would have less money for classroom supplies as campus budgets get slashed 15 percent. Class sizes would grow, and courses with small enrollment would be consolidated or eliminated.

FISD is the fastest-growing school district in Texas, but district had already delayed the opening of four newly-constructed schools because of the budget gap. 

Some expenses, however, would be added. The district will hire seven more special education teachers to handle that growing student population. It will also add 17 bus drivers and ten bus monitors. The biggest increase calls for a one percent staff raise, though board members hope to bump that to at least two percent.

The budget will be finalized May 8, and school board members will vote to adopt it June 19.