Hutto ISD trustees look at budget cuts for next year

13 Jan
Education Reporter

Round Rock Leader

Since a 6-cent tax rate election failed in Hutto ISD in November, administrators and school board members must now consider cutting an additional $1.2 million from its projected $38.9 million 2012-13 school year budget.

One of the major factors affecting HISD’s budget is Texas school districts are not receiving additional funding from the state to fund student growth, said HISD assistant superintendent of business and finance Ed Ramos. They are predicting 4-percent growth, to 5,879 students, which adds an additional $1.5 million to next school year’s budget.

“There is no way to leave expenses as is because extra students will be coming in,” Ramos said during Thursday’s HISD Board of Trustees meeting. “We have to do something because of our increased growth.”

Currently, it costs $6,831 to educate a student in HISD.

HISD Superintendent Doug Killian said the community has already experienced the $4.5 million in cuts made for the 2011-12 school year in ways such as charging an extracurricular fee for students competing in middle school and high school University Interscholastic League events. The fees are charged on a sliding scale starting with a $25 yearly

fee for a student to participate in unlimited activities. Students qualifying for federal reduced lunch programs are charged $12.50 and for students on free lunch the fee is $2.50.

Killian said HISD is looking into having another tax rate election in September but this time the amount will increase the total tax rate by 13 cents. He said the tax rate election will help the district financially but some cuts will still need to be made.

“We will have to make cuts even if the tax-rate election passes since we have to pass our budget by Sept. 1,” Killian said.

One of the largest cuts administrators and board members could make is restructuring the current Legacy Early College High School located at the Temple College in Taylor campus. The program costs $500,000 to run. If students take those classes on the Hutto High School campus, HISD could save $300,000 which includes $50,000 in transportation costs.

HISD officials would need to hire four additional teachers for this program, which amounts to a total cost of $200,000, Killian said. There are 114 HISD students attending the Legacy.

Three parents spoke during Thursday’s board meeting urging the district to leave the Legacy Early College High School as is.

Trustee Connie Gooding is concerned with the possibility of parents pulling their students out of HISD and transferring to Taylor ISD since the Legacy program is offered through that school district, too. She said this could result in a loss of per-student funding for HISD.

Killian said there are several misconceptions out there regarding future plans for Legacy that administrators will have to work through over the next several months.

“Cutting Legacy all together is not the proposal we want,” Killian said. “We are looking at it and other things in our district at all levels but haven’t even begun to make those decisions yet. We have to fulfill the obligation for this year’s juniors. We would like to see if we could fulfill the obligation for this year’s sophomores as well.”

For HISD to be considered financially strong, it needs to have about $7.7 million in the fund balance. The district has $3 million in the fund balance for the 2012-13 school year. It costs approximately $3 million a month to run the school district, Ramos said.

HISD has also lost some federal Title I funding. Federal government officials state the district has approximately 464 students eligible for the federal free and reduced lunch programs. However, HISD data states 47 percent of the student population, or over 2,000 students, are eligible for the free and reduced lunch programs, Ramos said.

If the tax-rate election tentatively set for September does not pass, the district will approve a total tax rate of $1.54. Of that tax rate, $1.04 goes to the maintenance and operations portion which funds things such as teacher salaries and 50 cents of that goes to the debt service rate.

HISD will have a budget workshop Tuesday, Jan. 23 to further discuss budget options.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: