This was sent out to all KISD employees. Thanks to the reader that sent it along:
Subject: MESSAGE FROM DR. V REGARDING BUDGET ISSUES
To my fellow Keller ISD employees,
Welcome back from Spring Break! I hope you all had a safe and relaxing week off and are ready to get back to the home stretch of the 2009-10 school year. I know these last two months make up what is typically the busiest time of the year, but remember it’s also a very important time of the year with TAKS testing, end-of-the-year events, and trying to squeeze every last bit of knowledge into the heads of our students before they head out for the long summer break.
While most of us are focusing on wrapping up this year, many administrators as well as our Board of Trustees are already focused on the following school year. Of particular importance this time of year is the process of putting together next year’s budget. This process is always a precarious one, but as you all well know, the past few years have been some of the most difficult financial years our school district has ever faced. This year is certainly no different.
We continue to spend less per student than all but one of the 33 districts in the State of Texas that are comparative in size to ours. In fact, an independent study of the 200 largest districts in Texas found that we are the 12th most efficiently managed, meaning we do more with less than just about any other district in the state. This is certainly a credit to our exceptional faculty and staff and the support of our parents and the community to go above and beyond to educate KISD students.
Unfortunately, as the costs of doing business continue to rise, we continue to get the same state funding per student ($4,823) that we have for the past four years due to the target revenue put in place by the State Legislature in 2005. Though this legislative action has caused problems for responsible districts like us that have a history of efficient spending, the solution does not lie with the State government. The State of Texas is already looking at a budget gap of $11 billion with only $10 billion available in its rainy day fund, and all State agencies have been asked to cut 5% from their budgets. Needless to say, we won’t be getting any additional funds from the State any time soon.
Keller ISD administrators and I are currently working with the Board of Trustees to consider all possible solutions to our upcoming budget issues. Among these is a Tax Ratification Election (TRE) which would allow the Board to ask voters to raise the district’s maintenance and operations (M&O) tax rate from the fixed $1.04 per $100 in appraised home value up to the statutory maximum of $1.17. An increase to the statutory maximum would provide approximately $16 million in new revenue for the district and would solve any deficit budget issues for at least 2 or 3 years.
Without the TRE we could continue to make budget cuts. Budget projections show that right now we’re facing an $8 million shortfall in addition to maintaining all the reductions from the past two years and with no salary or benefit adjustments for 2010-11 included. This would mark the third consecutive year of making dramatic cuts, as we continue to grow and as costs continue to rise.
An additional option to address our financial issues is the possibility of the Board declaring a financial exigency which would facilitate a reduction in force (RIF). This would allow the district to reduce the district workforce if necessary.
No final decisions have been made at this point, but everything is a possibility and I wanted to make you aware of some things that may be coming in the near future. Know that you have a district administration and a Board that supports you and believes you are doing a great job educating our students at levels higher than ever. While we all have to look ahead to the coming year, it is my hope that all of you will remain focused on our district’s mission: The community of Keller ISD will educate our students to achieve their highest standards of performance by engaging them in exceptional opportunities.
Dr. James Veitenheimer
Keller ISD Superintendent