Dr. Blaine's Blog

A Message from Dr. Blaine and the Board of Trustees (11.7.23)

Last night the Spring Branch ISD Board of Trustees approved resolutions, based on administrative recommendations, to reduce SBISD's $35 million budget shortfall for the 2024-25 school year.

These include resolutions changing the staffing ratios for high schools, aligning high school schedules, increasing Pre-K tuition and adjusting Pre-K Center boundaries, and pausing the bond program for the four remaining elementary school rebuilds. Trustees paused until November 27 decisions around closing two schools. The total impact of the approved budget considerations is $2.9 million.

We can say, unequivocally, these are the hardest decisions amidst the most challenging financial situation our district has faced since 2011, the last time the state's funding for public schools caused such challenges.

Aligning high school schedules is not a popular decision for some, but it's the right decision for our students, staff and our system as a whole. We have the utmost confidence that our high school leadership teams will successfully work to make the transition as smooth as possible for students and staff for campuses impacted by this alignment.  This decision had to be made now, so that master schedules and course catalogs could be finalized prior to winter break. Students begin their course selection early in the spring semester.

Some parents and community members have asked why the district cannot put forth now the entire plan to address our $35 million shortfall. The magnitude of what we are currently facing is significant, and every part of the district will be impacted.

While district administration has developed a plan to fully address the shortfall and presented it to the Board of Trustees, there are portions of our plan we cannot yet publicly address. Many of these decisions are administrative and will be reflected in the FY25 budget that will be brought to the Board of Trustees for approval next spring in alignment with our annual budget calendar.

The district already has reduced $20 million in personnel and program costs that were funded by ESSER federal pandemic relief funds, and central office divisions have reduced their budgets by ten percent in each of the past two years, or about $7 million. Vacancies have not been filled and can only be filled with my approval.

We are faced with these decisions because the state has kept our revenues flat for four years while our costs due to inflation have skyrocketed. These decisions are especially frustrating because the state is sitting on the largest budget surplus ($33 billion) in history.

As Board President Earnest and I noted in our message last Friday, we wish we were not in this situation, but our state leaders have left us no choice. No increase to the basic allotment was approved by the 88th Legislative Session, nor has any new money for public schools been passed through three special legislative sessions.  We do not know when, or if, Governor Abbott will call another special session. Even if a fourth special session is called, we do not anticipate new funding at a level to significantly impact our budget challenges.

We promise to share as much information as possible as we are able. We have created a new webpage on the district website where community messages, presentations and other related information will be housed.

We also promise that we will continue our advocacy efforts to #fullyfundSBISD.

We thank you for your understanding as we continue to work through these very difficult decisions.

Thank you,

Jennifer Blaine, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

Chris Earnest
President, SBISD Board of Trustees

Click here to read the Nov. 7 press release from SBISD.