- Aledo ISD
2023-2024 AISD Budget Update
August 17, 2023
Dear Bearcat parents, guardians and community members:
As our entire staff, administration and Board of Trustees have been preparing to welcome nearly 8,200 Bearcats back for the first day of school this week, we have also been working on finalizing the budget for the 2023-2024 school year. We are blessed to serve in this community and to partner with you to ensure we are #growinggreatness through the programs we offer here and the exceptional experiences our students encounter everyday. We take our responsibilities very seriously and believe we understand the high expectations that our community has for how our children are served in their schools.
As our children return to Aledo schools for the 2023-2024 school year, we wanted to make everyone aware of the impact of recent legislation or failed legislation on our schools, students, and staff and the expected budget shortfalls due to the lack of support from our state Legislature. This is not unique to Aledo ISD as these same effects are being felt by school districts across the state.
Local Property Taxes
In late July, the Governor signed Senate Bill 2 from the second special session that will provide local property tax relief through both an increased homestead exemption and a reduction in the district’s M&O tax rate. We are still waiting for the dust to settle, but we expect a significant tax rate reduction due to this and prior legislation. It is important to note that, as it relates to money for schools, this is merely a shift of the funding obligation from the local taxpayer back to the state and has no material impact on how much money schools receive to operate in total; meaning there is no new money for schools in this bill.
As you may be aware, schools are funded primarily on a per-student basis. The amount of money a school district receives (from local and state sources) is determined by formulas provided by the state Legislature. These formulas have not been updated since 2019, even as operations costs required to serve students have increased due to inflation and due to our efforts to increase teacher pay to attract and retain the best teachers possible.
Given the state’s $33 billion surplus, we were hopeful that more funding for public schools would become a reality. In fact, state leadership publicly asserted before the legislative session that their priorities included raises for teachers but, to date, nothing has been done. We are hopeful that in a future special session our legislators will address this; but at this point, we will work under the assumption that our leaders in Austin will not be using their historic surplus to help address this issue. Texas currently ranks #42 in the country in funding per student.
In Aledo ISD, we have a long history of making safety a priority as we work daily to keep our students and staff as safe as possible, so we were pleased to see state leadership announce that improving school safety was a priority before the legislative session. We had high hopes that with these improved safety measures would come significant funding. The Legislature did pass a handful of school safety bills with several new requirements for school districts along with a new set of building safety standards that schools must meet. However, the funding supplied was meager at best. Before this legislative session, Aledo ISD received roughly $72,000 from the state’s School Safety Allotment, but our safety and security expenditures are approximately $1 million per year. Due to the new laws in place, Aledo ISD will now receive roughly $228,000 annually, which includes $15,000 per campus to provide a police officer at each school (something AISD committed to doing years ago with the establishment of the Aledo ISD Police Department). You can see that this does offset some of our costs but is not nearly enough to cover neither what we are already committed to doing nor the many new unfunded mandates that were the result of the Texas Legislature’s work this past session.
Aledo ISD 2023-24 Budget Impact
Overall, the effect of this Legislative Session on our operating budget is an increase of approximately $1.1 million – a 1.4% increase compared to our current operating budget – with most of the money allocated to school safety requirements listed above. After it became evident over the last couple of months that the Legislature would not be providing the expected additional funding, we began working with all campuses and departments to decrease their annual operational budgets by 10% while identifying additional savings where possible. Districtwide, we are also implementing some new guidelines for ongoing expenditures. The reduction will not affect staffing or programs, and, with what resources we have, we will continue to prioritize being competitive with compensation in order to attract and retain the best teachers possible. If the Legislature does not increase funding in a future special session - and since the Legislature won’t meet again in a regular session until 2025 - reductions to staffing or programs will be increasingly likely.
Despite this, we want you to know that we remain committed to #GrowingGreatness, creating exceptional experiences, and providing the best education available in our state and country for our students every day. We know that is what you expect for your children and for all the children in our Aledo ISD community, and we have these same high expectations for all of our students in Aledo. The Texas Constitution requires that the state establish and support free public schools in Texas, and we will continue to ardently advocate for our Aledo ISD students, staff and community members.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to any of us if you have any questions. And also please reach out to our legislators to share your thoughts and requests as they represent us in Austin and prepare for the upcoming special session this fall:
Senator Drew Springer: (512) 463-0130; firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Phil King: (512) 463-0110; email@example.com
State Representative Glenn Rogers: (512) 463-0656; firstname.lastname@example.org
Aledo ISD Board of Trustees: Forrest Collins, President; Jessica Brown, Vice President; David Lear, Secretary; and Board Members Jennifer Loftin, Jennifer Taylor, Zach Tarrant and Hoyt Harris; and Aledo ISD Superintendent Dr. Susan Bohn
P.S. Don’t forget that funds for bonds like our community passed in May are separate from the funds used to educate our students, pay teacher salaries and operate our facilities. The district’s overall tax rate has decreased nearly 23 cents the last four years, and we anticipate it will decrease an additional 14-16 cents (or nearly 12 percent) this year.