Frisco ISD budget expands Pre-K, supports 1:1 classroom technology, boosts online learning opportunities

FRISCO ISD News: The Frisco ISD Board of Trustees approved the District’s 2020-21 budget Monday, prioritizing several items identified in recent years by the community.

The $605 million operating budget accommodates the expansion of Pre-Kindergarten to a full-day program for eligible students, supports the implementation of 1:1 classroom technology and provides additional support to help students navigate new academic opportunities in online learningdual credit and more.

The budget also provides funding to maintain small class sizes and continue to offer competitive compensation, both key in recruiting and retaining effective teachers to work with students everyday.

Frisco ISD Chief Financial Officer Kimberly Smith said: “It is hard to predict what financial resources may be necessary moving forward as we continue to respond to COVID-19. The depth of the economic downturn and what it will mean for the state’s finances is also unclear. With the likelihood of funding cuts on the horizon, we’re moving cautiously while making sure we meet the needs of our students in this unprecedented environment.”

Additional investments will be made to evaluate and support students with special needs as well as support student services such as social-emotional learning and behavioral interventions.

In all, the budget adds 246 new campus staff and 62 new support staff to meet the needs of growth and support students and campuses with additional programs and services.

It also increases secondary fine arts spending as a result of an in-depth study of student fees. An operational fee previously charged to support participation in middle and high school athletics has been indefinitely suspended.

Employee Compensation & Benefits

Eighty-two percent of the budget will be allocated for payroll, including a $1,000 raise for all employees on the teacher pay scale and a 1.5% of midpoint raise for all other staff. T

he annual starting teacher salary will increase from $54,500 to $54,900, and the District will boost the minimum hourly wage for hard-to-fill positions such as bus drivers, custodians and special education paraprofessionals.

Although no change will be made to the District’s monthly contribution to employee health care premiums, FISD will offer new health care options through the Texas Schools Health Benefits Program (TSHBP). This includes both a high-deductible plan and co-pay plan with significantly reduced out-of-pocket maximums for staff. The high-deductible TSHBP plan will be completely free to those with employee-only plans after the District’s $350 monthly contribution.

Tax Rate Adoption

All of this will be funded at a lower property tax rate. Once taxable values are certified later this summer, FISD anticipates a combined 2020 tax rate of $1.3158, a 2.25-cent drop from 2019. The maintenance and operations (M&O) portion of the tax rate is dependent on statewide tax compression mandated by House Bill 3. Passed by the 86th Legislature in 2019, HB 3 requires the state to compress school districts’ tax rates based on property value growth. The Board is expected to adopt the tax rate in September.

Sustainable Spending

Given the uncertainty related to the coronavirus and potential for future cuts in state funding, FISD took a conservative approach to development of the 2020-21 budget. All spending is designed to be sustainable, and the budget includes a cushion should revenue come in lower than expected. Frisco ISD is also fortunate to have maintained a healthy fund balance that can be leveraged as needed to address urgent needs or temporarily close funding gaps.

Published by Brian Bearden

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