While the immediate future of public school funding remains unclear, trustees in Grapevine-Colleyville and Northwest school districts recently approved 2 percent raises for employees for the 2017-18 budget year.
Despite expecting lower revenues next year, Grapevine-Colleyville school board members approved the increase, along with a general operating budget of $172 million at the June 19 board meeting. Of that amount, almost $44 million goes back to the state for recapture, or Robin Hood payment.
The Robin Hood payment went up almost $12 million because the district’s tax values increased, said DaiAnn Mooney, chief financial officer. The values rose about $10.4 million. At the same time, funding from the state dropped about $1.6 million.
“Overall, we’ve got a net decrease of about $3 million in funding from the prior year,” Mooney said.
Although the Texas Legislature did not address school funding during the regular session, it is on the list of items to be discussed in the special session called by Gov. Greg Abbott.
“If there are any changes from the special session July 18, we will amend the budget,” Mooney said.
Officials have a preliminary estimate of a $6.4 million deficit, but the outlook could improve. Mooney said she estimates conservatively to ensure sufficient funds for the year. For the 2016-17 budget year, the original estimate showed a $3.3 million deficit, but Mooney estimated the actual ending deficit at about $83,000.
A budget shortfall would come out of fund balance, the district’s savings account, currently at about $56.7 million.
For 2016-17, starting teachers in Grapevine-Colleyville schools made $50,000 and those with 20 years experience made $54,650.
According to a salary survey from the United Educators Association, Grapevine-Colleyville teacher salaries tend to be at or just below the median for districts on the west side of the Metroplex.
Northwest teacher pay is in the top 25 percent at most experience levels, with starting teachers earning $52,000 and 20-year educators making $59,450 this past year.
Northwest officials anticipate much higher revenues next year because of tremendous growth and an increase in property values.
They estimate growth in assessed property values at more than $2.7 billion over the last year, or a whopping 22 percent.
For the year ending June 30, trustees adopted a general fund budget of $191.5 million. The 2017-18 budget allocates $201 million for general expenditures.
The 2 percent of midpoint raises for all employees will cost $2.6 million.
“The 2 percent we’re offering pales in comparison to how much we appreciate our teachers,” said Northwest Superintendent Ryder Warren.
Northwest school board members were expected to adopt their budget at a June 25 meeting.
Carroll and Keller school districts won’t complete their budgets until later in the summer.
Barring changes from the special session, Carroll officials expect to have almost $1 million less in revenue for the 2017-18 budget year than they had for this year.
Despite the reduction, trustees are considering a raise for employees. A 2 percent raise would cost about $1.1 million. Without a raise, preliminary estimates show a $2 million deficit for next year.
At the June 5 board meeting, several board members said they would prioritize a salary increase for teachers and staff.
Trustee Read Ballew said, “We really appreciate our teachers and our staff, and we will do everything we can to take care of them.”
Keller administrators are proposing no raise for 2017-18, Chief Financial Officer Mark Youngs said.
For each percentage point of a raise, the cost for Keller schools would be more than $2.3 million.