Austin school trustees weigh $1.3 billion budget, ban on suspensions


Austin school district employees will not receive raises under current budget proposal.

2017-18 budget plan includes a $536 million payment to the state.

The Austin school board on Monday night will get its first glimpse of the $1.3 billion preliminary district budget for 2017-18.

Under the budget proposal, district employees will not receive raises, and the tax rate is expected to remain unchanged at $1.079 per $100 of assessed property valuation. A 1 percent raise for all employees would cost $5.7 million, and a 3 percent raise would cost more than $17 million.

More than half a billion dollars of that budget is expected to go to the state in a recapture payment, required from property-wealthy districts to subsidize property-poor districts under the state’s school finance system. That would leave the district $757.8 million for operating expenses.

Austin hands over more money under the school finance system than any other district in Texas. And as property values continue to rise and the district’s enrollment declines, greater percentages of local tax revenue will go to the state. The 2017-18 recapture payment is expected to climb 32 percent over this year’s to $536 million.

The district is projecting a loss of 170 students, the fifth consecutive annual decline, but it’s the smallest enrollment loss in recent years.

Other projected expenses include $1.4 million for adding a Montessori program and putting a health sciences program in one high school and a computer science program in another. Maintenance and repairs for the district’s facilities, which include custodial work and groundskeeping, are an estimated $7.2 million, and replacing and maintaining vehicles will cost the district $1 million.

Trustees also are slated to vote on whether to ban home suspensions, expulsions or alternative disciplinary programs for students in prekindergarten through second grade, except in cases required by the state’s education code (such as making terroristic threats).

The Dallas, El Paso and Houston districts have passed similar bans.

Austin district administrators and advocates pushing for the change, including Texas Appleseed, said research shows suspending young children is punitive and ineffective and leads to higher rates of dropouts and academic failure.

Others, including some teachers and principals, expressed concern that it limits the discretion of school staffers. District administrators are committing to a multitiered support system for both students and teachers.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Community news: Artwork sought for Dove Springs Recreation Center

TRAVIS COUNTY AUSTIN Artwork sought for rec center Art in Public Places, a program of the city of Austin’s Cultural Arts Division, is seeking a professional visual artist, or artist team, to design and fabricate artwork for the Dove Springs Recreation Center, 5801 Ainez Drive. An informational meeting will be from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Aug. 8 at...
Body found in house in Deer Creek Ranch in Southwest Travis County
Body found in house in Deer Creek Ranch in Southwest Travis County

Travis County sheriff’s deputies responded Sunday at 10:30 a.m. to a home in the Deer Creek subdivision for a welfare check and found a deceased person. The body may have sat in the home for up to a week, deputies say, and it was in an advanced stage of decomposition when they discovered it. An autopsy will be performed on Tuesday morning, said...
H-E-B issues recall for ground beef packaged Sunday at Buda store
H-E-B issues recall for ground beef packaged Sunday at Buda store

H-E-B has issued a precautionary recall for ground beef sold at its Buda store on Sunday. The recall is issued only for 80 percent lean ground chuck sold on Styrofoam trays that were packaged on Sunday with a time stamp later than 4:30 p.m. and sold at the Buda store, 15300 S IH 35 Frontage Road. Customers can return the product to the store for a...
EXCLUSIVE: Feds arrive to inspect APD fleet in carbon monoxide case
EXCLUSIVE: Feds arrive to inspect APD fleet in carbon monoxide case

Inspectors for Ford Motor Company and investigators from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will be on the ground in Austin this week trying to figure out what is causing carbon monoxide to leak into police sport utility vehicles, city officials confirmed to the American-Statesman and KVUE-TV Sunday. The visit will be the second time...
Senate panel OKs mail-in ballot fraud bill

The Senate State Affairs Committee unanimously approved a bill Sunday that would set up safeguards to prevent mail-in ballot fraud in Texas and increase penalties for people who try to steal others’ votes. Senate Bill 5 by Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, would require a signature verification process for early ballots, notification...
More Stories