Dear SBISD Families, Staff and Community,
In recent weeks, the SBISD Board of Trustees met over a series of meetings to review the first phase of budget considerations to address the district’s $35 million budget shortfall for the 2024-25 school year.
The agenda for the Board’s Special Meeting next Monday, November 6, includes action items as follows:
- Request for Approval of a Resolution to Increase Pre-Kindergarten Tuition Rates
- Request for Approval of a Resolution Pausing Bond Programs
- Request for Approval of a Resolution Adjusting High School Student/Teacher Staffing Ratios
- Request for Approval of a Resolution to Align High School Schedules
- Request for Approval of a Resolution to Adjust Pre-Kindergarten Boundaries
- Request for Approval of a Resolution to Close Panda Path School for Early Learning
- Request for Approval of a Resolution to Close Treasure Forest Elementary School
Collectively, these Resolutions represent about $5 million in budget cuts to begin to address our shortfall.
These are decisions that neither the Board of Trustees nor district administration take lightly. We wish we were not in this situation, but our state leaders have left us no choice.
We all hoped for and even anticipated that adequate funding for Texas public schools would be proposed and pass in the 88th Legislative session (and subsequent called sessions). Not only is this funding required by our state constitution, but it is also needed to address the 19 percent inflation impacting our collective bottom lines since 2019. In short, the state has kept our revenues flat for four years while our costs have skyrocketed. All while the state has had a record budget surplus of more than $33 billion.
Unfortunately, this was not the case despite strong advocacy by our Trustees, staff, families and community. Our advocacy efforts were among the strongest, if not the strongest in the state. In fact, we were told your strong messaging led to the shutdown of the email system in the House of Representatives one day last April. We thank you for paying attention to our messaging and taking action on behalf of our students and schools.
Sadly, our collective efforts fell on deaf ears, as state leaders prioritized last spring, and continued to prioritize through three special sessions, approval of a voucher program (aka education savings accounts) over funding for our public schools that serve more than 5.5 million children. Neither has happened to date.
While Governor Abbott did expand the call for the third special session in recent days, plans put forth by the House and Senate do not provide the level of new funding that SBISD needs to address our budget shortfall. With only a few days left in the session, no new funding is likely at this time. 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 thank all our community members, parents, students and staff who shared comments and feedback on the first phase of budget considerations.
We will share information with the community as difficult conversations and decisions continue in the weeks and months ahead.
We will also continue the fight to #fullyfundSBISD as your children and our school district remain our bottom line.
Jennifer Blaine, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools