Budget talks for 2017-18 continue Thursday

Facing a multimillion dollar budget shortfall for 2017-18, the Frisco ISD Board of Trustees will meet in a special work session with members of the Priorities-Based Budget Stakeholder Committee to discuss recommendations on how to cut costs next year.

Maddie Owens

Facing a multimillion dollar budget shortfall for 2017-18, the Frisco ISD Board of Trustees will meet in a special work session with members of the Priorities-Based Budget Stakeholder Committee to discuss recommendations on how to cut costs next year.

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The Frisco ISD Board of Trustees will work together with members of the Priorities-Based Budget Stakeholder Committee and Working Group Thursday 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. at the CTE Center to examine the district’s financial situation and work towards a budget for the 2017-2018 school year.

“We began this priorities-based budgeting process in the fall with a group of stakeholders made up of community members and FISD employees,” FISD Chief Financial Officer Kimberly Pickens said in an email. “At our first stakeholder meeting, we asked them to brainstorm about the District’s priorities as well as the areas where they thought we should look to reduce spending.”

I see two major intangible outcomes – increased awareness and a stronger partnership with our community stakeholders,”

— FISD Chief Financial Officer Kimberly Pickens

The meeting comes after the Tax Ratification Election failed last August, where voters rejected a tax rate increase.

“Frisco ISD is listening to the community and intends to find sustainable solutions as we move forward,” superintendent Jeremy Lyon said on the FISD website. “We are grateful to the community members who are participating in this process because from the outset, they have recognized the qualities and values that drive FISD.”

Seven areas emerged as topics of focus at the first stakeholder meeting: campus budgets & support staff, transportation/ custodial/energy management, compensation, class size/class schedules, central administration, extracurricular activities, and revenue generation.

“We split that stakeholder group along with the School Board into those seven focus groups and asked them to do deep dives into their assigned areas and come up with recommendations to be presented at the workshop,” Pickens said. “The recommendations we hear tomorrow are recommendations only. Those recommendations will be vetted by a working group of staff leaders, then to district administration, and then to the School Board for final consideration.”

Maddie Owens
The Frisco ISD Board of Trustees will work together with members of the Priorities-Based Budget Stakeholder Committee and Working Group Thursday 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. at the CTE Center to examine the district’s financial situation and work towards a budget for the 2017-2018 school year.

These recommendations would likely be more than a short term fix if they make it in front of the Board.

“The sustainability component means that any recommendation carried forward to the School Board would be a long-term recommendation rather than a short-term fix,” Pickens said. “It’s possible that some of the recommendations we hear tonight may even be for future years, as they may take staff some time to fully analyze and/or implement.

Besides a balanced budget, Pickens believes there will be other outcomes.

“The tangible outcome will be a balanced budget,” Pickens said. “In addition to that I see two major intangible outcomes – increased awareness and a stronger partnership with our community stakeholders, and a bit of a philosophy shift for FISD.”

With this in mind, administration and the community have a consensus on spending cuts.

“Eliminating spending in areas that are considered ‘lower priorities’ or ‘luxuries’ in order to pay for our true priorities is going to feel different for a lot of people,” Pickens said. “At the same time, it’s become very apparent to me going through this process that our staff and our community are really on the same page about how and where we should prioritize spending.”

Despite the complications with a tighter budget, Pickens believes the yield will be beneficial.

The idea is to identify priorities, and pay for them, while eliminating spending in lower-priority areas,”

— Pickens

“We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback and great ideas so far,” Pickens said. “It’s a very difficult task to balance a budget, but we remain committed to providing the best possible education for our students, so I have no doubt that the outcome will be directly in line with our mission and goals.”    

Pickens says another TRE is not out of the question, but will have to come after many other considerations and procedures.

At the end of the day, we’re still the only district in Collin County that has not passed one,” Pickens said. “However, we need to complete this process and re-run all of our financial models before moving forward with another TRE recommendation.”

Regardless of the ongoing process, the district’s leaders always have the same mission in mind.

“The overall vision of this process was to create a balanced and sustainable budget that’s aligned with FISD’s mission to know every student by name and need,” Pickens said. “The idea is to identify priorities, and pay for them, while eliminating spending in lower-priority areas.”