Tonight we had the first of our 2 Budget Advisory Committee meetings. The Budget Advisory Committee process was established several years ago. During these 2 meetings, each Board member selects a member from the community who participates in reviewing the proposed budget. This year, we also invited the members of our Texas Legislative delegation to participate. Tonight, we had the honor of having Representative Dwayne Bohac and members of the staffs of Representative Beverly Woolley and Jim Murphy attend our meeting.
Here are the documents that were provided to each member of the Budget Advisory Committee. These documents include an Executive Summary of the draft budget for FY2009 (2008-2009 school year), a Financial Summary of the draft budget, the District's Profile, Campus & Department Budgets (to be provided at a later meeting), and an Appendix.
The FY2009 proposed budget presents the stark reality of a broken school finance system. Regular readers of this blog know that when the Texas Legislature "fixed" the school finance system in the Special Session in 2006, school district revenue was capped at the 2006-2007 revenue. There was no provision for inflationary cost increases, and the revenue cap remains in place forever. As a result, the 10% property valuation increases and resulting tax increases many Spring Branch residents have seen over the last 2 years (and will continue to see) do not remain in Spring Branch, but instead now benefit the State's general fund. (For more information, please see these prior posts here and here).
Perhaps the most troubling document contained in the materials provided is this Mulit-Year Projection that shows the devastating impact the changes to the school finance system have had and will continue to have on Spring Branch. These projections show that, without legislative changes, Spring Branch will exhaust its fund balance by FY2012 (2011-2012 school year), and will be facing unimaginable budget deficits in just 2 years.
These budgetary problems are a direct result of the failure of the legislation to include inflationary increases at a time when salaries, benefits, health insurance, energy, fuel, etc., all continue to rise. Combine that with our ever-increasing Robin Hood contribution - estimated at $20 million next year, and you can see why the finance system must be overhauled.
In Spring Branch, we are fortunate that our Legislative delegation understands these issues and is prepared to assist the District. They will need our help in January to address this impending crisis.