Fort Worth, Texas – In a marked display of fiscal assertiveness, Fort Worth Independent School District (ISD) trustee Anael Luebanos has announced his conditional approval of an unbalanced budget for the 2023-24 academic year, accompanied by a rigorous demand for augmented student results.
Fort Worth ISD trustees approve controversial compensation package amidst Fort Worth ISD budget deficit
Luebanos, along with five other board members, assented to a prodigious budget surpassing $1 billion on June 27th, a budget conspicuously marked by a $45 million general fund deficit. Meanwhile, trustees Michael Ryan and Kevin Lynch demurred, voicing their disapproval through negative votes, and trustee Wallace Bridges tactically chose to abstain.
The general fund budget, the fiscal lifeblood for the day-to-day running of the district, ambitiously proposed an expenditure amounting to an excess of $846.8 million, dwarfing the anticipated revenue of $801.5 million. The consequential chasm between the proposed spending and the realistic revenue forms the heart of the deficit issue.
Fort Worth ISD trustees aims to delve into its considerable reserves to counterbalance the deficit
To counterbalance the deficit, Fort Worth ISD aims to delve into its considerable reserves, an accumulated wealth of $338 million. Despite the variance in their voting behaviors, both Luebanos and Lynch concurred on the indispensable need for a balanced budget in the succeeding 2024-25 academic year.
“At the end of the day, as a trustee, I am going to hold the superintendent accountable for the scores. We’re approving this budget because we want our students to succeed,” Luebanos said, as reported by Fort Worth Report.
The current academic achievement levels within Fort Worth ISD will remain enigmatic until later this autumn. The district is awaiting the release of student scores on the state’s standardized test. A promising trend was observed in 2021 as student performance on these tests rebounded to pre-pandemic levels following a disconcerting slump in the years prior to 2020.
Fort Worth ISD teachers to get slight pay increase as a part of new compensation package
A parallel voting session saw the trustees approve a $23 million compensation package, which included an increased base salary of $62,000 for beginner teachers and a general pay increment of $1,925 for their more seasoned counterparts.
Additional benefits of this package are a 3% raise for the majority of employees, with executive-level staff receiving a modest 2% increase. The package further introduces new stipends, revisions to certain benefits, and recognition of work experience for certain professions, such as nursing and tradesmen.
However, the compensation package was not unanimously favored, reflected by a 5-3 vote. Trustees Quinton Phillips, Camille Rodriguez, and Lynch expressed their dissent by voting against it, with Luebanos abstaining.
While appreciating certain aspects of the compensation changes, Lynch underscored the importance of financial stability for Fort Worth ISD, pointing out that the salary increments constitute over half of the deficit.
“Fundamentally for me, I want to see a balanced budget. I like some of the things we’re doing for some of the people in the district, but I think we need to be willing to make some concessions as a district, too,” Lynch said.
The next significant juncture in the Fort Worth ISD budget process involves the consideration and determination of the new property tax rate, a decision that trustees are set to make on August 22nd.