Not in the books: Board faces months of deliberating on budget with projected $7 million deficit

Neha Desaraju, Entertainment Editor

The budget approval process for the Board of Trustees typically starts in spring of the preceding school year with a series of budget workshops. This cycle, however, the board decided to hold its first workshop in November, after it became clear it would need much more time to prepare for what was to come.

2019’s House Bill 3, COVID-19, and other expenditures from current and previous budgets have placed a $7 million projected deficit in the Coppell ISD 2020-21 estimated budget. As a property-wealthy district, the majority of funding for the district comes from local property taxes, about a third of which are recaptured by the state in the Robin Hood program. The district typically has projected budget deficits of about $2 million every year, but because the district budgets more for employment than it actually needs, the district does not find itself in debt.

[The deficit] doesn’t mean we are obviously in the red. A misconception is that we’ve been in the red in our spending and really we’re not. Deficit and debt are two different things,” CISD Board of Trustees member David Caviness said.

Earlier this year, students and parents voiced concerns over district conversations about discontinuing New Tech High @ Coppell and the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Coppell High School. During last Monday’s budget workshop, the board stated that cutting these items would be its last resort.

HB3, passed two years ago, changed major funding and tax formulas for Texas school districts. Because it was passed relatively late in the session, the district was required to pass the 2019 budget without a clear idea of what the funding formula would be. This is the first full year under the new formula.

“Anytime there’s new legislation, there’s unintended consequences, even if the legislation has really valid and meaningful purposes. House Bill 3 is not going to go away. One of my hopes in this session would be that they would look at what were some unintended consequences and unintended expenses and modify the funding formula to account for those things that they’ve asked us to do,” Bentley said. “My other hope is that anything that applies to school finance would get decided early in this session, so that there’s time for us to go into the end of our budget process knowing what the formula is going to be rather than having a whole school year where the formula’s evolving and we’re having to adjust as best as can.”

To read the rest of the story, click “Read more” below.