KELLER -- Two weeks after approving a budget for 2011-12 with a surplus of more than $6 million, Keller district officials made plans at a special meeting Thursday to restore about $2.75 million.
The additional funds will help defray busing costs for parents, eliminate furloughs for support staff and administrators, and enhance curriculum and student health and safety.
Several trustees said they wanted to use excess funds and district savings in 2012-13 to retain teachers funded this year by $4.8 million in federal education jobs money.
"I want our employees to feel more secure and less anxious about their position so we can try to hang on to some of these people," Trustee Lara Lee Hogg said.
Administrators proposed that the district adjust the Pay for Ride bus service so families would pay for no more than two riders. They estimated the cost at about $400,000.
Officials also suggested that the district cover the cost of ID badges at about $15 per rider, or about $210,000. The cards are used to track payments and when a rider gets on and off a bus.
The charge for Pay for Ride is $185 per semester for one child and $135 per semester for a second child in the same family. Low-income students pay $100 per semester.
The district will also cancel unpaid furloughs for administrators and support staff members at a cost of $320,000. There were no furloughs in the budget for teachers, counselors, librarians and nurses.
Officials plan to re-instate half the allotment for library books at $200,000 and for technology at $450,000. They will also use $313,000 to create a mobile learning lab for gifted and talented students, an area that lost some funding for teachers. Curriculum officials plan to buy math and science materials for the new state assessment exams.
An estimated $70,000 will be used to adjust salaries for nurses with associate degrees. Penny Benz, assistant superintendent of human resources, said the district was unable to fill vacancies at a salary of $35,000.
Some $71,400 will be used toward stipends for assistant coaches in cross country, tennis and wrestling programs at the four high schools. Each had been cut to one coach to oversee both boys and girls teams.
Officials made adjustments to the budget after some trustees expressed concern about the surplus when they had expected to dip into district savings. Officials had spent the spring and summer cutting more than $25 million from the spending plan; an election to raise taxes to generate $16 million failed in June.
Deputy Superintendent Mark Youngs explained that the state estimate on funding cuts was a constantly moving target.
Throughout the spring, officials predicted that Keller would lose $24 million to $27 million on top of a local deficit of $16 million. The state estimate included $8 million for an overpayment from the Texas Education Agency on reimbursements for the Keller Town Center tax increment financing district. Keller Town Center includes the Keller district's natatorium.
In late June, officials learned that the state had reduced cuts to $13.4 million for general education and had cut in half what was owed on the overpayment for Keller Town Center taxes. State officials also said they would allow Keller to pay back the $4 million over four years.
At the end of the 2010-11 budget cycle, the district also received $2.3 million from the state for lower-than-expected property tax revenue and $2.6 million for higher enrollment.
"Had we known this was the case, we wouldn't have had the [tax rate election]," said board President Kevin Stevenson.
Sandra Engelland, 817-431-2231