Dallas ISD CFO briefs trustees on district’s ‘strong financial position’

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Noting the district’s strong financial position, Dallas ISD Chief of Finance Jim Terry told trustees on Thursday that the district is now projecting to end the year with approximately $330 million in the reserve fund balance.

The state recommends a school district have a reserve fund balance, which is basically a school district’s equivalent of a person’s savings fund, to cover two months in expenses; Dallas ISD’s reserve fund balance would cover three months in expenses. Terry noted that the district’s projected $330 million fund balance is significantly higher than just six years ago, when the fund balance was $37 million.

“We have been very good stewards of the tax dollars,” Terry said.

Terry briefed trustees on the district’s strong financial position during an update on the district’s proposed 2015–16 balanced budget.

Dallas ISD is proposing a $1.38 billion balanced budget for the 2015-2016 school year that would increase teacher salaries on average by $2,300, provide a 3 percent raise for non-teaching staff, and continue to implement several new initiatives.

About 78 percent of the proposed budget would fund salaries and benefits ($1.082 billion), with the remaining 22 percent representing all other expenses ($305 million).

Dallas ISD is currently proposing that the tax rate remain the same as it is now under next year’s budget, at $1.04 for maintenance and operations and $0.24 for debt service, per $100 valuation. The board will review the tax rates again in August.

The proposed budget also allocates additional funds to support early childhood programs, which would allow the district to open hundreds of additional pre-K seats in areas currently under served. In addition, the district projects to add additional teaching positions next year, in part to keep up with student enrollment growth and to open new Public Choice Schools as part of the Bridge Plan approved by the board in March.

Trustees are slated to adopt the budget on June 25.

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