HPISD Staff Updates Board on Potential Bond and Budget Planning

HPISD staff plans to meet with principals and other campus leaders to clarify the projects in a potential bond that could appear on the ballot in November. 

The district’s Community Advisory Committee recommended in April that the board consider a $130 million to $140 million bond package to address maintenance and capital improvement needs, as well as make more funds available for teacher salaries. Click HERE to read more about the committee’s recommendation.

District staff plans to provide the board with additional updates at its May 28 work session and June 11 board meeting, assistant superintendent for business services Scott Drillette said during a work session on April 30.

He said that staff should be able to provide a recommendation with all potential bond projects and pricing to the board at the end of July. The board could consider approval of that recommendation at its meeting on August 13. It has until August 19 to call for a November bond election.

Drillette also presented the board with updates on the district’s budget planning for the 2024-25 school year, including possible salary increases for teachers and staff of between one and four percent.

Drillette suggested that the district consider as an option a two percent salary increase for staff in the next school year, with an additional two percent increase paid retroactively if the board calls for and the district successfully passes a bond proposition.

HPISD’s payroll consumes by far the largest share of the district’s budget, and will account for an estimated 85 percent of its expenses in the 2023-24 school year. The district’s salaries have improved compared to its peers since the 2021 Golden Penny Election, but it is still below average in most categories of compensation.

“Everything that we do is driven by payroll or salary and compensation,” Drillette said. “The dollars that the district has committed to non-payroll expenditures are very limited.”

Board members and staff discussed the need to “right size” the district’s staff to account for declines in student enrollment. “In 2017, we had 454 teachers, and in 2023 we have 454 teachers, even though we have about 550 fewer students with a projection of another 500 or so students declining over the next five years,” Superintendent Mike Rockwood said. 

The district conservatively projects a budget surplus of $500,000 at the end of the 2023-24 school year, Drillette said, based on higher than expected investment earnings. The district invests property tax dollars between the time when it receives them in January and when the money is recaptured by the state in August. 

“It’s great to have those investment earnings, interest rates are higher right now,” Drillette said. “But we also know that we cannot always count on them.”

The district is in a stronger financial position than most Texas districts, Rockwood said, which are realizing or passing deficit budgets. The state has not increased funding for schools since 2019, despite high inflation. 

Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 10:40 a.m. on March 5 to correct a previous version of the final quotation attributed to Scott Drillette. The quotation had incorrectly stated “but we also know that we can always count on them,” instead of “cannot always count on them.”

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