HISD board members vote unanimously to approve proposed budget

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston ISD board members have come to an agreement on their $2 billion 2018-2019 proposed budget.

Under state law, HISD had until June 30 to reach a consensus. The budget does include a number of cuts, but the deficit is not as a bad as originally projected.

HISD is a growing district, with more than 214,000 students. It's the 7th largest district in America - with its fair share of challenges.

"We were trying to make sure we were making the most efficient use of our dollars. Our colleagues were concerned that we had not balanced the budget, but clearly, we are going from $116 million deficit last year to only a $18 million deficit this year," Board President Rhonda Skillern-Jones said.

The passing of the budget comes as good news to most, because it means there will be fewer layoffs. More than 200 positions were eliminated or closed this year.

The items that weren't spared includes, all vacant 11-month custodians being cut, fleet mechanics cut, and maintenance staff, warehouse staff and non-salary funding stuff were reduced.

Police department support staff were also eliminated, but all on-campus police officers remained.

The district also said that there will be no new computer purchases, at a district level, and a longer time for issues regarding HR or the help desk.

"The administration worked really hard to try and keep our schools as whole as possible and minimize as much as possible. That's always a very challenging job," Sue Deigaard, HISD Trustee for District 5, said.

Increased revenue helped close the deficit, but the district hasn't received a lot of reimbursement for expenses spent after Hurricane Harvey. Despite it all, Skillern-Jones says is glad they came to a conclusion.

"We have to keep our district operating, obviously, and we are not going to risk that. We do feel like, unanimously, that this was the best budget we could get this year."

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