Houston ISD facing $208 million budget shortfall

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As HISD begins to prepare a budget for the upcoming 2018-2019 school year, the district is estimating a $208 million shortfall as result of the financial impact of Hurricane Harvey and recapture.

Recapture is the term for the money the State of Texas collects from "property-rich" districts for distribution to "property-poor" districts.

HISD has seen a decline in student enrollment and expects even fewer students during the coming school year, according to the district. That would mean a decrease in state funding.

The district anticipates the storm will have a significant impact on the city's property values. HISD's main source of funding is property tax dollars.

Additionally, the district had their own Harvey-related spending costs.

"While we may have made it through Hurricane Harvey, we are now firmly in the financial storm," said HISD Superintendent of Schools Richard Carranza. "The financial struggles brought by Harvey, recapture, and school finance have put us in a difficult position, but it is our duty to proceed thoughtfully about the resources, materials, and staffing we need to ensure we meet our goals of educating the whole child and providing all students with the essential services they need to be successful."

District officials are looking at changing the way schools are funded during the 2018-2019 school year. Currently, schools receive funding based on dollars per student and principals are allowed to decide how those dollars are used on their campus. But now HISD is considering a plan that would still give principals the power to decide whom they will hire, but the district would ensure that every school has positions such as a nurse, counselor, and librarian. Schools would be assigned positions rather than dollars based on the number of students they serve.

In addition to the proposed school budgeting model, all HISD departments are being asked to make cuts for the coming school year totaling $116 million, which is 56 percent of the $208 million deficit.

Board workshops and community meetings will be held over next few months to review changes and updates to the proposed budget. By law, the HISD Board of Education must approve a budget by June 30, 2018.
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