School Budget FAQ
Will public schools receive state funding during the COVID-19 emergency closures?
Yes. The Texas Education Agency assures us that school systems will continue to receive funding if they are closed because of COVID-19 related concerns as long as the school system commits to supporting students instructionally while at home.
Are school employees being paid during the emergency closure caused by COVID-19?
Yes. Policy DEA (LOCAL) states that during an emergency closure, all employees shall continue to be paid for their regular duty schedule unless otherwise provided by Board action. Following an emergency closure, the Board shall adopt a resolution or take other Board action establishing the purpose and parameters for such payments. The Carroll ISD School Board adopted this resolution on March 24, 2020.
Are school employees working during the closure?
Most employees are still working remotely from home and/or have been called in to the office as needed to complete essential tasks. This includes paying vendors, processing payroll, providing technology support, preparing/delivering meals to qualifying students, maintaining facilities/grounds, and more. Counselors, special education teachers, curriculum coordinators, coaches, librarians, art teachers, music directors and support staff are all working diligently to provide continuity of services for CISD students. There are certainly some services that have been halted as a result of the school closures, but most employees are still creatively working to ensure students are supported academically, socially and emotionally during these uncertain times.
Are some employees receiving premium pay during the closure?
Yes. According to Policy DEA (Local), nonexempt (hourly) employees who are required to work during an emergency closing for a disaster, as declared by a federal, state, or local official or the Board, shall be paid at the rate of one-and-one-half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked up to 40 hours per week. This probably is more closely associated with the term “hazard pay” for employees assuming the risk of coming to work during an emergency closure. In the past this has mostly been for staff who assume the safety risk and report to work during bad weather closures due to hazardous road conditions. Due to the unusual duration related to this pandemic, CISD leaders may at some point this summer want to discuss and possibly revise the premium pay policy. In the meantime, the CISD Leadership team is diligently working to minimize the number of premium hours needed to keep the district operational during the emergency closure.
Business closures affect sales tax. Will local sales tax losses negatively impact Carroll ISD’s budget?
No. Public schools do not receive revenue from sales tax. Carroll ISD is primarily funded through property tax collections, and property taxes have largely been collected for the year. CISD is in preliminary budget discussions for the 2020-2021 school year. It’s too soon to know just how long the closures will last and exactly what the impact will be. It could be the next biennium before some of the financial impact is known.
What is Carroll ISD’s annual operating budget?
Currently, CISD has an annual operating budget of $121 million. About 85 percent of Carroll ISD's $121 million Maintenance & Operations (M&O) budget is personnel-related costs (excluding recapture payments to the state and payments to the City of Southlake for participation in the Tax Increment Financing Zone).
Will my tax bill increase as a result of COVID-19?
We do not anticipate a tax rate increase, but increases in your tax bill can happen if you experience an increase in the value of your home. House Bill 3 passed by the 86th Legislature, required tax rate compression in tax years 2019 and 2020. Thus, Carroll ISD decreased its Maintenance and Operations tax rate by 7 cents for the current year. Further tax rate compression is required as well for 2020 and will be calculated after the District receives certified property values in July. The Carroll School Board sets the local tax rate annually in September. Carroll ISD does not set your property value. That is determined by the Tarrant Appraisal District (TAD). Carroll ISD's tax rate is the sixth lowest of 21 Tarrant County Public School Districts. The local tax rate has decreased by 63.5 cents since 2005-2006.
Does Carroll ISD have a rainy day or reserve fund?
The School Board and Administration work together to maintain a healthy general fund balance for unforeseen emergencies, just like the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, CISD has not had to dip into the fund balance because of COVID-19. The district currently has about $40 million in its general fund balance. The Texas Education Agency recommends an Optimum Fund Balance, which is calculated based on district cash flow needs and expenditures levels (approximately $38.4 million for CISD). The TEA Optimum Fund Balance represents three months of operating expenses.
Is Carroll ISD losing revenue during the emergency closure?
Yes. Carroll ISD expects revenues to decrease in the following areas:
- Interest Earnings due to sharp drop in rates
- Facility rentals stopped during closure
- Marketing revenue
- Gate receipts for spring sports and receipts for swim lessons
- Child Nutrition revenue from daily breakfast and lunch sales
- SHARS (School Health and Related Services) revenue due to decrease in the reimbursable services being provided during closure
Is Carroll ISD having to spend more money because of the COVID-19 emergency closures?
Yes, in some areas. The district does anticipate expenditure increases in the following areas:
- Premium pay for hours worked by non-exempt staff during closure
- Increased unemployment claims
- Increased cleaning supplies
- Online instruction costs and printed materials for students
Are there any areas where CISD is saving money because of the emergency closures?
Yes. The CISD leadership team is looking for ways to reduce spending in all areas possible. We are reducing purchasing to items that are only absolutely needed during the closure and have put a hold on employee travel. In addition, we should also have department and campus budget savings during the closure. In 2018-19, the district did not spend $1.6 million of our original expenditure budget, mainly as a result of vacancies throughout the year. We are currently tracking to do the same in 2019-20 if not a little better as a result of reduced spending due to the closure. In addition, the district expects to see expenditures go down as a result of the following:
- Reduction in cost of substitutes needed
- Extra duty pay for tutoring and athletic game workers
- Bus driver pay for shuttles and field trips and fuel savings
- Electricity and water savings while buildings are shut down
- Employee and student travel
- Reduction in food costs for Child Nutrition
Will the district be eligible for federal reimbursement?
The district may be eligible for expenses incurred and revenues lost as a result of the closure. School officials are tracking those amounts for possible reimbursement by FEMA.
Is the district still hiring?
Yes, and no. CISD leaders recently presented a staffing model to the School Board based on demographic projections. The staffing plan calls for an increase in seven staff members to accommodate student growth for the 2020-2021 school year. The Board authorized CISD to hire staff to fill these seven new positions, plus any vacancies caused by staff who are retiring and/or resigning at the end of the current school year. There were a significant number of other requested new positions, however, that have been put on hold as school leaders further assess the budget situation.
Does CISD have plans to furlough any employees?
Because schools are expected to continue to be funded by the state, Carroll ISD has not discussed any kind of layoffs or furloughs at this time. Furloughs are not a typical cost-saving measure for a school district. Policy DEA (Local) calls for the district to pay all salaried employees over 12 months in equal monthly or bimonthly installments, regardless of the number of months employed during the school year. This spreads an employee’s annual salary out over the entire year so they can receive a portion of the pay they earned during the school year during the summer months when school is not in session. Likewise, stipends for extra duty assignments and coaching are spread out over 12 paychecks, too.
Will Carroll ISD be granting refunds due to COVID-19 emergency closures?
The district does not have all staff working regular hours in the business office due to social distancing restrictions. This makes issuing individual refunds very difficult. The district did agree to give the parents of tuition-paying PK students a credit for the time closed in March and will charge only half tuition during the duration of the closure. As for school lunch accounts, balances in school lunch accounts will carry over into the new school year. The lunch account balance of senior students will either be transferred to the accounts of siblings for 2020-2021 or processed for reimbursement when CISD reopens. Bus passes were purchased and paid for by the semester and/or year. CISD does not intend to issue refunds related to the disrupted bus service. Funds paid for special events and/or field trips will carry over into the new year to the extent possible. Refunds will be granted on a limited basis to graduating seniors and/or students who withdraw once CISD resumes regular business office operations. For advertising/marketing partners affected negatively by the CISD closure, CISD will grant future advertising credit and/or extend the contract for a period not to exceed the emergency closure period.
Are school construction projects continuing during the emergency closure?
Yes. Projects related to the 2017 Bond Program are considered to be essential work. Construction is continuing on schedule while contractors/subcontractors adhere to social distancing restrictions. CISD leaders and Bond Program Manager John Haugen are closely monitoring supplies/material delays and/or cost issues related to COVID-19. CISD’s bond program did not require an increase of the local tax rate and projects, some of which are individually over or under their projected budgets, are still currently within the overall $208 million budget approved by voters in May 2017. Work on the music center at Carroll Sr. High is progressing, and some projects inside the black box theatre, choir and band rooms have been moved up while students are not in the building. Construction on restrooms for tailgate fans and renovations at Dragon Stadium have already begun, as have new classroom additions at Rockenbaugh Elementary School and Walnut Grove Elementary School. Smaller construction projects are just beginning at Carroll Middle, Durham Intermediate, Dawson Middle and Eubanks Intermediate.