With the school year drawing to a close, the Sherman Independent School District’s board of trustees took time Tuesday night to look at next year’s finances, reviewing a basic layout of the district’s 2017-2018 budget and discussing where some of those dollars might be best spent.
Assistant Superintendent Tyson Bennett provided a little context on the district’s cash flow with a presentation outlining the current school year’s budget and a projection for the year to follow, which emphasized the importance of funding teacher recruitment and retention efforts, as well as cyclical expenses.
“Overall, we’re looking good,” Bennett said of the still-somewhat-fluid SISD budget, pending average daily attendance numbers and property tax values set to be released at the end of April.
Information posted on the school district’s website pointed toward a projected revenue stream of roughly $64.3 million next year, which includes all the local, state and federal funding the district expects to receive. That figure represents an 11 percent increase over the current year’s revenue, which totaled $57.9 million.
But Bennet said figuring out how all that money will be allocated is no easy task.
“You have many needs within a school district,” Bennett said. “You want to not only take care of your instruction in the classroom and support services for kids, but also your staff. So your priorities that you’ve set forth for the district, you just want to get as many of those included in the budget as possible.”
Perhaps the biggest budgetary priority identified by Sherman ISD for the upcoming school year was ensuring competitive staff salaries and benefits. Bennett presented the board with four general salary-increase scenarios; a 1.1 percent salary increase for staff amounting to $534,000; a 2.2 percent increase totaling roughly $1 million; a 3.3 percent raise rounding out to $1.6 million and a 4.4 percent increase totaling $2.1 million.
No numbers were decided upon during the meeting, but Bennett said the competition for educators was widespread and the district would consider that as it moved forward with any raises.
“We see it really as anywhere that’s within driving distance,” Bennett said of neighboring competition. “It’s not just here within the 15-mile radius, it’s also the way down to the Metroplex, so we’re competing with all those schools.”
Cyclical expenses, related to the district’s utility, technology, transportation and classroom needs were also identified as one of Sherman ISD’s biggest budget priorities. Board President Tim Millerick summed up such costs rather simply.
“Replacement cycles are really never-ending cycles,” Millerick said.
Bennett explained that two programs in particular — athletics and fine arts — also made the list as they go through materials comparatively quickly.
“Theses are programs that have quite a bit of equipment, supplies and uniforms, which we need to make sure we look at so we don’t come across a particular time where we have to replace the whole lot at once.”
With six weeks left in the 85th Texas Legislative session to possibly affect funding and just as many remaining in the current school year, Benet said the budget remains in motion, but the priorities are set. A final budget for Sherman ISD is expected to be announced in late June.