Tomorrow night your Board of Trustees will hold a Public Hearing and Adopt a Tax Rate and Budget for the 2017-2018 school year. This budget year is like none other I have witnessed in my almost 40 years as a Texas educator. As you know, the recently adjourned Texas Legislature did not pass a new school finance bill and as a result, Lovejoy ISD is set to lose approximately $6 million in state aid. This is 16% of our total budget. To put that number in perspective, we would have to reduce our teaching staff by 120 teachers to cover the loss. We are not laying off any teachers whatsoever nor are we cutting programs which are the very reason(s) you chose to move to Lovejoy and paid a premium for your Lovejoy home. Your Board, along with the administration, has been working on options to fund the budget without taking anything away from your kids; in fact, we have held multiple budget workshops along with budget discussions at our regular meetings since November 2016.
We still have one last chance for the Texas Legislature to return the $6 million to our budget. The Governor has called a special session to begin on July 18th which can last up to 30 days. The Legislature could take action to restore our funding and the funding of approximately 200 other districts who find themselves in the same situation. You may
to read the June 14th edition of Email Express which includes a budget update and you may
to read the May 30th Special Edition of Email Express which includes detailed information regarding our school funding. In fact, we are asking as many of you as possible to join us at the Capitol on July 24, 2017 to make one strong push with the Legislature to restore our funding. Please save this date. Additional information will follow in future communications.
In the meantime, we are required to pass a budget by June 30, 2017, and we must account for the revenue sources to fund the budget. The budget we have developed collaboratively with the Board will make up for the lost state funds in this manner:
- 10% across the board cut to all operating budgets
- Use of $1,750,000 from our fund balance
- Parent paid "fee for service" for bus transportation and extracurricular participation
- Personal Seat License (PSL) for reserved stadium seating for home varsity football games
How much will be saved from the 10% cut to operating budgets?
Savings will be $600,000 and these reductions should not affect your child's experience next school year.
After we use $1,750,000 from fund balance, will the fiscal well-being of the district be protected?
Yes, with the utilization of $1.75 million from fund balance, we have sufficient funds to cover cash flow in the fall semester until tax payments begin to come into the district.
What is the proposed "fee for service" for bus transportation?
If the Legislature does not restore our state funding in the July 2017 Special Session, the proposed bus fee will be $350, per student, for a full school year. This breaks down to $2 per day to ride the bus to and from school.
What is the proposed "fee for service" for participation in extracurricular activities?
If the Legislature does not restore our state funding in the July 2017 Special Session, the per student proposed extracurricular fee for athletics and fine arts will be $500 for grades 9-12 and $350 for 8th grade. No fees will be charged for 7th grade as students explore different activities. The fee will cover all activities regardless of the number of sports and fine arts activities in which students choose to participate. The district will offer hardship waivers and/or scholarships if necessary to ensure no student is denied participation.
What is a Personal Seat License (PSL)?
If the Legislature does not restore our state funding in the July 2017 Special Session, the district will institute a PSL for reserved seating for the 2018 Football Season. Our reserve section will be renovated to replace the current bench seats with seating which includes arm rests, backs, and fold-down mechanisms, similar to the home seating in the varsity gym at Lovejoy High School. The Board has not yet set the cost of the enhanced seating option(s). The renovation will be paid from savings on capital projects as well as the sale of the land on Blondy Jhune. The revenue from the sale of PSL's can be used to offset the loss of state revenue.
If the loss of state funds is approaching $6 million, what is the breakdown of the source of replacement funds?
- 33% will come from our fund balance
- 21% will come from expenditure cuts
- 24% will come from PSLs
- 22% will come from transportation fee and extracurricular fee
You are welcome to join us for the public hearing and Board Meeting tomorrow night (Wednesday, June 21st) at 7:30 PM in the Lovejoy ISD Administration building.
Remember, save the date of July 24th for the school funding Rally Day at the State Capitol.
If you have questions, please let me hear from you by email or mobile phone.