A school district budget is divided into two main funds:
1) maintenance and operations, sometimes called the M&O fund
2) interest and sinking, sometimes called the I&S or debt service fund
Money in the maintenance and operations fund can be used for daily operations (i.e. salaries, supplies, utilities, etc.). Money in the interest and sinking fund is used to repay bonded indebedtness. School districts hold school bond elections to obtain authorization from local voters to sell bonds and collect taxes for the payment of the bonded indebtedness. Monies from the bond sale are used for construction and capital improvements to facilities and to buy furniture, equipment and/or to purchase land.
The money collected on the I&S side of the ledger cannot be used for maintenance and operations costs. In other words, you cannot use I&S funds to pay teacher salaries. It isn't legal in Texas.
Taxable Assessed Values
Each year the Tarrant Appraisal District appraises residential and commercial property in Carroll ISD. The Board-approved tax rates are applied to these values to determine the amount of property tax that will be collected for Carroll ISD. Tax billing and collections for Carroll ISD are done by the Tarrant County Tax Office. The district historically builds its budget based on a 99.5 percent tax collection rate. These revenues are used to offset expenditures for educating children in Carroll ISD. Click here for more information on the Carroll ISD Tax Rate.
Student enrollment plays a significant role in formation of the public school budget. Districts have a per pupil expenditure to consider, and student funding is directly related to the number of students in the district. There are several terms which are used to describe student population. “ADA” is Average Daily Attendance. “Refined ADA” is the Average Daily Attendance adjusted for special schedules and other minor refinements, and “WADA” is the Weighted Average Daily Attendance used by the State of Texas to determine state funding. In this calculation, special multipliers are used to increase the average attendance for special needs kids.
Funds collected from the community. The primary source of these funds is property taxes. Property taxes are levied based on rates set by the Board of Trustees. Other sources of local revenue include admission to sporting events, rental fees, activity fees, etc.
Funds are provided by the State of Texas for education. These funds consist of foundation grant money, as well as several special allocations. For Carroll ISD, these funds have historically represented less than 10% of the total operating revenue. Beginning in 2002 Carroll ISD became a Chapter 41 (wealthy) school district. In the state of Texas, wealthy school districts are required to send a portion of locally generated funds from the district to other less wealthy districts in the State of Texas. At this time the payment Carroll ISD makes to the State for “Robin Hood” is much greater than the funds received from the state. The computation of this amount is critical to future funding.
Federal revenues are based on specific programs set up by the federal government and administered through the Texas Education Agency. These funds are generally earmarked for special needs or economically disadvantaged children. Carroll ISD receives limited federal funding. This source of revenue represents 2% of the CISD budget.
Chapter 49 (Robin Hood)
In the State of Texas, the legislature has attempted to equalize funding for Texas school children. This attempt takes the form of reducing state aid as the valuation of property in a district per student rises.
Carroll ISD's fiscal year begins September 1st and ends August 31st of each year. A budget calendar is prepared annually by the Business Office. The budget calendar provides a list of important dates leading up to the approval of the overall school budget.
The budget calendar gives campus principals and department supervisors deadlines for submitting preliminary budget requests. These requests are then reviewed by central administration and several workshops are held before final budget approval. The district also has a Budget & Finance Committee that serves in an advisory capacity regarding the financial operations of the district. This committee is typically chaired by a School Board Trustee with assistance by the finance department staff. Community members with a background or interest in finance typically volunteer their service to this committee.
By law, Texas School Boards must approve the school budget by August 31st of each year. The tax rate must then be set by September 30th.
There are three key components necessary in order for school officials to project a school budget:
1) tax rate
2) assessed values
3) student enrollment
In mid May of each year, the district receives preliminary assessed values from the Tarrant Appraisal District. These values, along with student enrollment projections, are used to determine projected revenue in the coming school year. School Administrators work with the Board of Trustees to establish guidelines for the budget. These guidelines involve determining needs with regard to staffing ratios and salary adjustments.
One of the tools used in the budgeting process is the establishment of a Student-Teacher Ratio for staffing schools. This ratio forces campus administrators to work their schedules and offerings to fit the number of teachers available. It also allows the District to utilize demographic data projections and project hiring needs. These projections are critical to the development of the Budget. Ideally, the ability to estimate future personnel needs allows the budgets for salaries to be set during the critical hiring period of April and May. During tough financial times, however, it is sometimes much later before Trustees are able to determine salary levels.
Salaries, Classifications & Salary Schedules
Unlike many businesses, Carroll ISD hires a wide variety of professional, clerical and hourly staff. This diversity requires the district to maintain a wide variety of salary schedules. In the past, the review of these schedules and evaluation of the adequacy of these salary levels has allowed the district to hire the quantity and quality of personnel needed to effectively and efficiently operate the District. Review of these salary schedules is normally done during the early stages of the budgeting process.
To learn more about the school budgeting process, contact David Johnson, Assistant Superintendent for Financial Services David.Johnson@southlakecarroll.edu