Pearland ISD awaits outcome of funding plan

In News by Reporter News

The budgeting process is well under way in Pearland ISD, though district officials report that thus far, legislative funding formulas don’t look good for PISD.

The board is expected to hear more about the upcoming budget at its May meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, May 19, beginning at 6 p.m.

Staff has been working to balance the coming year’s expenditures and expected revenues, a process that must factor in projected enrollment and student capacity.

Statewide, school districts are monitoring the 84th Texas Legislative Session, hoping for additional funding for public education. House Education Chairman Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock has described his proposed funding plan, unveiled in early April, as a reworking of school finance. The proposal would remove many current provisions in the school finance system with the goal of bringing more equity to funding statewide.

But an initial Pearland ISD budget report presented in April states that while a proposed funding model would provide PISD with an additional $144 per Weighted Average Daily Attendance, or WADA, it is significantly less than the statewide average increase of $226 per WADA. The new funding plan is something Pearland ISD Superintendent John Kelly says he is not at all happy with.

Factors that are important to Houston area districts, such as the cost of education index, have been left out of the Aycock proposal, he said.

“A better solution for most school districts and certainly for ours, is that they just take the adjusted basic allotment, the amount you get per kid, and increase it across the state, rather than this strange way of doing it,” Kelly commented. “If they’ll do that, and leave all of those other weights intact, like cost of education index, we’re more likely to come out ahead. That’s our hope. We don’t know if that will happen right now.”

Given only the extra funding currently proposed, Kelly said, and with 500 new students coming in, budget needs create a gap between revenues and expenditures – with no salary increases. Adding pressure to budget concerns is the fact that surrounding districts are increasing teacher pay to be more competitive academically.

“We think their lives are as uncertain as ours,” Kelly said, though board members commented that PISD can’t afford not to do the same.

Next year’s budget is being developed based on a projected enrollment of 21,042 students, an increase of 468 students over the current year. Next fall, the district anticipates those students will use just over 90 percent of its 23,274 seating capacity.

PISD trustee meetings are held at the Education Support Center, 1928 N. Main. Individuals may address the board during the citizen’s participation portion of the regular meeting.

Agendas for each meeting will be available 72 hours in advance at pearlandisd.org.

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