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Three area school districts kick off 2017-18 fiscal year with approved budgets

Several accountants for Denton County school districts spent their Friday closing out the books and putting into effect newly approved yearly budgets.

Three area districts — Denton, Krum and Pilot Point — held meetings last week to approve budgets that will take effect Saturday, July 1, for the start of the 2017-18 school year. Other districts see their fiscal years start on Aug. 1 and won't approve budgets until the end of July.

Even with Texas' school finance system in limbo as the state Legislature heads to a special session, school officials have to work within the bounds of current funding formulas. So, for those wondering where all of their tax money is going, here's a handy guide:

Denton ISD

With a tax ratification election on the horizon, Denton ISD's budget is built off a $1.06 maintenance and operations tax rate — which generates the money used to pay teachers and fund programs.

The district's operating revenue has gone up nearly 13 percent to $256.4 million as local property taxes increased by $24.8 million and state revenue increased by $5.6 million. Meanwhile, operating expenditures rose by more than 9 percent to $256.4 million, thus creating a balanced budget for the district.

Much of the added cost comes from opening up Rodriguez Middle School in Oak Point this coming academic year, which will cost Denton ISD roughly $1 million for utilities, groundskeeping, fine arts and athletics. 

Officials have also set aside money for salary raises, which will cost $5.9 million. 

Paraprofessionals — secretaries, teacher aides, maintenance workers — will see a 4 percent increase in their salaries, while professionals — principals, program directors, technology personnel — will see a 2 percent increase. Teachers will receive a minimum $1,250 raise, and the starting salary for first-year teachers with a bachelor's degree will be bumped up $1,000 to $52,000 per year.

Krum ISD

A few miles to the west, Krum ISD is bracing for a potential $1.3 million deficit in next school year's budget.

Although local revenue from property taxes is projected to go up by $801,000 to $11.9 million, officials expect a $2.2 million decrease in state money because a critical funding mechanism known as Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction is set to expire this summer. That funding still has a chance of being discussed in the special session, set to begin July 18.

Currently, the district's overall operating revenue sits at about $23 million, while expenditures come in at a little more than $24 million. The budget shows cuts to several line items: instructional resources, curriculum development, school leadership, guidance counseling, food services, general administration, extracurricular activities, data processing, plant maintenance and debt service.

If legislators decide to renew the state aid funding, Krum officials have set aside $400,000 for pay stipends. 

Pilot Point ISD

Like Denton, Pilot Point ISD projects a balanced budget. But like Krum, the district is also expecting a decline in state funds.

Both operating revenues and operating expenditures for next year total $13.6 million. On the revenue side, property taxes will bring in an added $422,000, while state funding will decline by $546,000. On the expenditure side, employees should see a 1.5 percent raise from the median salary point.

Unlike Krum, Pilot Point ISD does not receive additional state aid. However, officials are projecting enrollment numbers to drop by 60 students to 1,330. The budget also projects a decrease in line items such as instructional staff members, library and media services, school leadership, alternative education programs and extracurricular activities.

Because of the enrollment decline and an increase in local revenue, Pilot Point ISD's budget includes a new expenditure line item called "Chapter 41 payments to TEA" totaling $54,761. This means Pilot Point is considered by the state to be a "property wealthy" district and must share local revenue with other districts. The district must make a payment back to the state that will assist districts with less local revenue.

This will be the first time Pilot Point has to make Chapter 41 payments, according to state records dating to 1994.

CAITLYN JONES can be reached at 940-566-6862.