Local School Board Talks Budget Struggles

school board
Budget word on card index paper. | Image by Sinart Creative/Shutterstock

Coppell ISD’s board of trustees held a meeting on July 24 to discuss the impact of inflation, state legislative actions, and a national teacher shortage on the district’s 2023-2024 budget.

Ahead of a third budget workshop on August 7 and a public hearing on August 28, the board highlighted several key issues likely to sway funding needs for the school term slated to start on August 15.

Student enrollment is expected to flatten over the next decade, with class sizes at the high school level already experiencing a decline.

In line with the projected demographic slowdown, Coppell ISD Chief Financial Officer Diana Sircar explained that the district would need to strategically budget within the 13,200 to 13,400 student range, according to the Coppell Gazette.

Similar trends have been observed at other local public school districts, some of which are struggling to get their budgets in order, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

Dallas ISD, the second-biggest public school system in Texas, has been dealing with declining enrollment for years, in part due to its poor student achievement outcomes. STAAR exams for the 2021-2022 school year showed that 41% of its students scored at grade level, significantly below the 48% statewide average.

Coppell ISD performed better, with 78% of its students scoring at grade level that school year.

Like many school districts nationwide, Coppell ISD is also grappling with a teacher shortage, putting the recruitment and retention of top-tier teachers at the forefront of trustees’ budgetary considerations.

Yet these efforts to provide attractive teacher salaries have been made more difficult by rising inflation, which directly impacts the cost of living for employees.

Sircar noted that some legislative changes on the state level could bring in more taxpayer money for the district, according to the Coppell Gazette.

For instance, the passing of HB 3 increased the school safety allotment by 28 cents per average daily attendance, plus an additional $15,000 per campus. This amounts to a substantial $244,000 for Coppell ISD, not including any funds from school safety grants expected to be available in September.

However, the budget will have to absorb new security mandates, including adding an armed guard on each campus and providing ongoing mental health training.

The House and Senate have approved property tax relief, which is anticipated to enhance the homestead exemption, contingent upon voter approval in November.

In May, Coppell ISD voters approved a $321 million bond package that included a series of changes to campus security, updates to the tennis center at Coppell High School, updates to technology systems, and other capital improvements, as reported by The Dallas Express.

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