FBISD Board Approves 2014-2015 Budget
By Betsy Dolan
The Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees have approved a $561,700,652 operating budget and no tax increase for the 2014-2015 school year.
The district has budgeted $7,767 per student with more than 64 percent of the budget allocated to instruction. Projections indicate that the district will serve 72,317 students in the coming school year.
In April, the board approved a four percent salary increase for all teachers and an increase in the starting teacher salary to $50,000. Additionally, the approved budget includes a salary increase for other staff that is four percent of mid-point.
The budget includes the addition of 395 new campus positions – 253 teachers, 142 campus support staff and 57 non-campus staff.
Many of the new campus positions address class size, significant special education concerns, and counselor workload. Some positions address the needs of schools with growing enrollments, the district said.
Fort Bend ISD has also dedicated a portion of the current fund balance to instructional materials ($5 million) and unforeseen maintenance ($8.9 million).
The approved budget maintains the current tax rate of $1.34 per $100 valuation, which includes a debt service tax rate of 30 cents combined with the District’s $1.04 maintenance and operations (M&O) tax rate.
“Maintaining the current tax rate at 34 pennies will allow us to pay off $7.7 million of our debt early”, said Steve Bassett, Fort Bend ISD’s Chief Financial Officer.
The budget is based on significant property tax revenue increases … 6.5% last year to a projected 9% this year. The average home value in 2013 was $194,444 while in 2014 it rose 10 percent to $213,888. The district will receive certified property values from the county at the end of July.
Trustee KP George questioned whether the potential of a 10 percent increase in property values was too aggressive but Bassett said the district used a more conservative 9 percent in drafting the budget.
“The 10 percent projection isn’t driving all of our budget numbers. It’s the economy and a reflection of the market. We’re in a desirable area and there is a lot of growth”, Bassett said.
A homeowner living in an average home valued at $213,888 will see $2,928 of their property tax bill go to Fort Bend ISD–an increase of $285 over last year.
The district will receive about $310.3 million in local funding; $249.8 million in state funding and $6.4 million in federal funding.
The breakdown of the Fort Bend ISD budget is:
• Payroll costs–$484.9M
• Professional services-$37.5M
• Supplies & materials-$26.1M
• Other operating costs–$12.4M
• Capital outlay–$827,000
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