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2015-06-18

BISD board looks at $22 million budget for 2015-16

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

Bandera ISD's chief financial officer Tish Grill presented an overview of the district's proposed budget for next year at a workshop held Monday, June 8. Grill described the budget as balanced, "but that doesn't mean it meets the needs of the district," she told the board of trustees.
The overall budget total of a little over $22 million includes $17.9 million in the general fund, $1.2 million in food service, $1.9 million in debt service, and $1 million in federal funds.
This proposed budget is scheduled to be adopted June 15, following any end-of-year budget amendments for the current year. Property values should be certified on July 25. That will be followed by a tax rate hearing and a tax rate adoption on Sept. 14.
Superintendent Regina Howell told the board, "We continue to look at the big picture... how can we save, what can we cut." For several years now, enrollment numbers in the BISD have been falling or have stayed flat. Since state and federal funding is based on the number of warm bodies in attendance, the district has had to deal with rising costs and falling income. There's growth out there in Bandera County, Howell acknowledged, "but we're not getting a lot of people with kids moving in."
When asked by one board member if it was time to consider cutting extra-curricular programs, Howell said the district was not at that point yet. Some extra-curricular programs will simply die of their own accord as the numbers of students who might want to participate in a program drops, she explained.
In the meantime, the district transportation office is looking at longer bus routes. Payroll is being cut through attrition, and Howell is having discussions with Medina Superintendent Penny White on possible sharing opportunities between the two districts.
Grill displayed a chart that demonstrated the falling enrollment numbers. The district did not budget for a decline in enrollment last year, "but we are working behind the scenes to make up for the shortfall [in funding]," Grill said, expecting that shortfall to be covered by the end of the current fiscal year.
Sometimes good news ends up being expensive. "We didn't budget enough to cover play-off expenses [this year]," Howell said. While BISD schools had an exciting year with many students competing on the state and national level, the district has to step up for those additional expenses. Howell intimated that in the current budget crunch, local winners may in future have to have some fund raisers to defray part of the cost of travel to competitions.
Field trips may be another area that will fall to the budget cutting scissors in the future. Educational field trips are a valuable part of learning, Howell said, but it's an area that could be cut.
The proposed 2015-16 budget shows almost a half million sliced from the instructional budget, mostly through attrition, and the elimination of a drafting class at Bandera High School.
When Grill said the proposed budget doesn't meet all the needs of the district, she pointed out that it does not include any pay raises other than step-raises, a $6,000 request for repairs to band instruments the school owns, or a $24K request for new band instruments. It also does not include several budget requests from the ag department, such as $2,300 for equipment repairs, $6,000 for supplies and $9,000 for a stock trailer.
No new buses were included in the proposed budget.
In addition, there are no technology upgrades allowed for.
BISD raises 80 percent of its revenue locally. The state antes up 12 percent and federal sources provide eight percent.