The Houston Independent School District Board of Education on Thursday voted unanimously to adopt a $1.58 billion budget for the 2011-2012 school year.
The budget includes $96 million in reductions, partially due to an anticipated state funding allocation of $79 million. News Release
The budget also includes $21,977,095 in surplus funds, which are being held for an anticipated budget shortfall of $40 million in the 2012-2013 school year.
Members of the board noted that a final number from the state is not available.
“We still don't have a budget from the State of Texas,” Trustee Greg Myers said. “This is probably the best information we have.”
Myers also said the board may have to approve a supplemental budget once a final figure is available.
Trustees also praised the administration for their work on the budget.
“I think the public should be aware of the fine job that our budgeting and our financial team has done,” Trustee Lawrence Marshall said. “It's been a real long journey.”
Marshall also said the budget does not include a tax increase, and “does not reflect a run on the rainy day fund”.
Chief Financial Officer Melinda Garrett said the district spends approximately $130 million per month to operate, and utilizes the rainy day fund for the period between the start of the district's new budget until state funding is received, as well as for items that are reimbursed through outside sources.
Marshall said the district's cuts and budget shortfall was “not one of our creation”, and noted the state's reduction in funding.
Board President Paula Harris said the district had originally faced a state budget reduction of $161 million.
“We're still not made whole, but we're not as bad as when we started in January,” she said.
The board received no comments from the public during a public hearing on the budget, but did receive comments before voting for its adoption.
Andy Dewey, executive vice president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, said the budget “does not step to the plate” for funding.
“We have cut, we have cut and we have cut and we have blamed the state for not doing their job,” Dewey said.
He said the district did not take a “balanced approach” by tapping into its own “rainy day” fund to cover costs that were cut from the budget, nor increase taxes.
“We have the lowest tax rate, by far, in Harris County,” Dewey said. “A lot of people think that's a good thing. At the Federation we think it's horrible that we have capacity to raise money, even a modest amount will do a great deal to mitigate these cuts. Yet, once again, we're choosing not to do so.”
Trustee Juliet Stipeche stated that it was important that the approximately $21 million surplus for next year's budget be put directly into the schools.
The school board voted unanimously to approve a redistricting plan for the board's representative districts.
The school board voted unanimously to approve the first reading of a revision to a board policy for employee welfare regarding freedom from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.
The item was revised to state that district employees shall not “discriminate on the basis of or engage in harassment motivated by age, race, color, ancestry, national origin, sex, handicap or disability, marital status, religion, veteran status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression”.
The school board voted 6-0-1, with Harris abstaining, to approve an agreement with Project GRAD Houston.
The district will provide a total of $1.425 million for the operation of Project GRAD Houston. The district is providing $1.35 million, and five elementary schools are providing $15,000 from each of their budgets to the program.
The school board voted unanimously ot approve contracts related to capital improvements at Carnegie Vanguard High School, as well as Blackshear, Bruce, Davila, Highland Heights, Isaacs, Kelso, Robinson, Scarborough, Tinsley, Walnut Bend and Young elementary schools.
The item was amended, by unanimous vote, to include an additional $100,000 for the improvements at Carnegie Vanguard High School. Trustee Carol Mims Galloway placed the additional funding on the item.
The school board voted 6-0-1, with Harris abstaining, to approve the 2011-2012 panel of law firms to provide legal services for the district.
The school board voted 6-0-1, with Myers abstaining, to approve a medical advisor for the health insurance and workers' compensation program. Myers abstained due to being employed by University of St. Thomas, and the candidate for the position is a member of the University of St. Thomas board.
Approval of the 2011-2012 Compensation Manual was withdrawn from the agenda.
Authorization for the submission of school state waiver requests for the 2011-2012 school year was withdrawn from the agenda.
Acceptance of funds from the Texas Education Agency associated with the Texas 21st Century Community Learning Centers was withdrawn from the agenda.
The first reading of a policy revision regarding curriculum development for innovative and magnet programs was withdrawn from the agenda.
The school board took no action on several items discussed during executive session, including:
- The matter of Ramirez Group, et al vs. Houston Independent School District, et al
- The resignation and release agreement in the matter of Houston Independent School District vs. Wilmer Beasley
- The resignation and release agreement in the matter of Houston Independent School Districts vs. Lakesha Carter
All other items were approved by unanimous vote of the members present at the time of the vote. Trustees Harvin Moore and Michael Lunceford were absent. Agenda