HOUSTON – June 14, 2017 – The Spring Independent School District Board of Trustees adopted a 2017-18 operating budget, at its regular meeting on June 13, that supports priorities included in the district’s five-year strategic plan Every Child 2020.
“The budget for this coming school year is the result of nearly nine months of work since the process started last September with a comprehensive stipend review as part of the district’s strategic compensation work,” said Dr. Rodney E. Watson, superintendent of schools. “The board’s commitment to staff is greatly appreciated and will help Spring ISD continue to compete with neighboring school districts to recruit and retain the best talent.”
The budget includes a two percent cost-of-living raise for staff, increases the starting teacher salary to $52,275, provides stipends for gifted and talented teachers and sustains an increase to the hourly rate of bus drivers that was approved and went into effect in February. In addition, the budget provides for:
- Expansion of full-day prekindergarten to include two more elementary schools, Smith and Anderson, for a total of seven campuses;
- Sixty new bus drivers;
- Bus driver attendance and recruitment incentives;
- Three new advanced academic staff positions that will be used to develop, design and enhance curriculum and instruction for gifted and talented students;
- Additional work hours, for half-day prekindergarten staff, that meet mandated state requirements;
- Two new technology positions assigned to the eSchool student data management system; and
- A new Performing and Visual Arts Assistant Director.
The ongoing expansion to full-day prekindergarten and the addition of 60 bus drivers are direct results of 2016 bond initiatives. The additional drivers are needed to drive the 60 new buses approved by voters to replace aging vehicles and expand bus service to a 1-mile radius.
“It is important for our community to know the district’s strong commitment to our full-day Pre-K expansion,” said Ann Westbrooks, chief financial officer. “Although we are only adding two campuses to the full-day schedule this year, the cost of sustaining full-day Pre-K at the original five campuses is now fully funded by our district’s M&O budget.”
The district was able to launch the full-day Pre-K program in 2016-17 at Clark Primary, Heritage, Link, Lewis and Thompson elementary schools with funding from the House Bill 4 High-Quality Grant appropriated in the 84th legislative session, which is no longer available.
“I am pleased that we were able to absorb the operating costs associated with the bond projects through our zero-based, priority-focused budgeting process,” Watson said.
The $389 million operating budget, which includes $307,130,929 in the general fund, $55,299,484 in the debt service fund and $26,879,475 in the child nutrition fund, will be supported by a proposed tax rate of $1.51.
The operating budget is estimated to require a Maintenance and Operations (M&O) tax rate of $1.04, which is the same as last year, while the Interest and Sinking (I&S) tax rate of $0.47 will be used to pay the debt service requirements on outstanding bonds. The projected I&S tax rate reflects a four-cent increase over last year due to the recent sale of bonds approved in the 2016 bond election. A combination of the M&O and I&S tax rates brings the district’s total to $1.51 per $100 valuation.
The tax rate is based on preliminary certified assessments of property values within the district. Board action on the tax rate will be taken in the fall after the district receives certified tax rolls from the Harris County Appraisal District.
A public hearing was held prior to the board’s adoption of the budget to give citizens an opportunity to express their views and opinions. Summary copies of the budget are available upon request and online at www.springisd.org.