Spring ISD budget calls for 4-cent tax rate increase in 2017-18

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If you live in Spring ISD, your tax bill may be going up this school year. (KTRK)

The Spring and Klein ISD budgets for the 2017-18 school year incorporate costs associated with new bus routes and staff in SISD as well as the opening of Klein Cain High School in KISD, district officials said.

The SISD board of trustees adopted a $389 million budget for the 2017-18 year on June 13.

The adopted budget includes a 4-cent tax rate increase, which will bring the district tax rate to $1.51 per $100 of assessed property value if the board adopts that tax rate.

The average home value in SISD in 2017 is $148,654, according to the district. Under the proposed tax rate, the average homeowner would pay an additional $60 in 2017-18.

The board will approve the tax rate in the fall after the district receives certified tax rolls from the Harris County Appraisal District, SISD Communications Director Karen Garrison said.

The budget includes a 2 percent raise for all staff members as well as funds for 60 new bus drivers, several new gifted and talented program positions and expansion of the district's full-day prekindergarten programs at seven campuses.

The new starting salary for an SISD teacher in 2017-18 will be $52,275, an increase of about $1,000. The salary increase addresses an item expected to come up during the special session of the Texas Legislature, SISD Chief Financial Officer Ann Westbrooks said.

"One of the items in special session is an unfunded mandate to increase teacher salaries by $1,000," Westbrooks said. "With a
2 percent increase, that would cover the $1,000 requirement for all teachers."

Some expenditures, such as new staff positions in the district's gifted and talented programs, are mandated.

"GT students are a special education group of their own," SISD board of trustees President Barbara Jensen said. "By law, we have to provide services to those kids."

SISD's tax base has grown considerably since 2009, when taxable value in the district was just over
$8 billion.

"In 2010, there was a drop-off in values, but over the last three or four years, there has been quite an increase in taxable values [in the district]," Westbrooks said.

The tax base has grown each year since 2013, reaching about $11.5 billion in 2016 and $12.5 billion in 2017, she said.

The board unanimously adopted the budget after a public hearing at which no members of the public registered to speak.

Klein ISD
KISD Chief Financial Officer Thomas Petrek said he expects the 2017-18 budget will not include an increase in the district's current tax rate of $1.43 per $100 of assessed property value. The KISD budget will go before the board of trustees for adoption Aug. 28.

The district projects growth of about 700 students in the 2017-18 school year and a 6 percent growth in taxable value, Petrek said.

Although KISD stands to lose about $4.3 million in state aid because its taxable base grew by 9 percent last year, the additional revenue from those properties will make up for the loss, he said.

The budget includes a 2 percent pay increase for the staff, and the new starting teacher salary is projected to be $52,600, Petrek said.

The proposed budget also includes $14.3 million for about 300 positions at Klein Cain High School, which will open for ninth and 10th grades on Spring Cypress Road in the fall.

The total amount of the 2017-18 budget had not been finalized in late June, but Petrek said the school district plans to tap its reserves to eliminate the need for a tax rate increase.

The next board of trustees budget workshop meeting will be held July 24.

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