HOUSTON – June 24, 2020 – The Spring Independent School District Board of Trustees adopted a 2020-21 operating budget at a special-called meeting on June 23 that funds a general pay increase of 2.5 percent of the control point for all staff, full-day prekindergarten at all elementary schools and the opening of ninth-grade centers at each of the district’s three comprehensive high schools.
The overall $426 million operating budget includes $337 million in general fund expenditures and represents a deficit of $7.1 million. Chief Financial Officer Ann Westbrooks attributed the deficit budget to the challenging budget environment resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and relatively flat student enrollment. The district’s projected enrollment for the next school year is about 35,433 students.
The adopted budget includes more than $9.1 million in pay increases and other equity adjustments that will better align the district’s salaries with surrounding districts. A study conducted by the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) on behalf of the district showed that Spring ISD paid less to teachers and other employee groups than surrounding districts.
“I want to thank our trustees for their leadership and commitment to supporting our staff as we work to stay competitive during a tough budget environment,” said Superintendent Rodney E. Watson after the meeting. “In approving these raises, our trustees reiterated their support for ensuring equity for our staff relative to salaries across our region.”
The trustees voted earlier this month to adopt the 2.5 percent general pay raises for Spring ISD educators and at Tuesday’s meeting, voted to expand the raises to all district staff as part of the general budget adoption. Specifically, the 2.5 percent general pay increase will bring a starting teacher’s salary in the district up to $56,500. In addition, the board approved one-time equity adjustments for some classroom paraprofessionals and other employee groups whose salaries were not aligned with the market.
“Our goal is to create better pay parity so employees working in the same roles with similar experience will receive comparable compensation,” Watson said.
Other new expenditures in the adopted 2020-21 budget include $2 million to expand prekindergarten to a full-day program for eligible students at all elementary schools in the district. Also included is $1.8 million to staff the three new ninth-grade centers being built under the 2016 bond program. Watson said the plan was to move forward and open the centers, especially because of the anticipated need for more space.
“They are definitely going to be needed for social distancing,” he said.
Taxpayers are expected to see a decrease this year with the district’s total proposed tax rate of $1.3877 per $100 valuation down from last year’s rate of $1.43. The rate is based on the combined 0.9377 cent Maintenance and Operations tax rate and 0.4500 cent Interest and Sinking tax rate, which is used to pay the debt service requirements on outstanding bonds. State law requires school districts to adopt a budget by June 30, but the tax rates aren’t formally approved until later in the year.
A public hearing was held prior to the board’s adoption of the budget. In closing, Westbrooks said, “We’ve been challenged quite a bit throughout this budget process, throughout this entire spring semester – changes everywhere you turn. Even though it’s a lot of uncertainty ahead of us, we feel as though we have a good team, we’ve done a lot of great work and we’re meeting the challenge every time it comes at us.”