The Shrinking Bottom Line

After 85th Legislature, PIISD faces $763,000 budget shortfall

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

Just one week after the 85th Legislature adjourned, the Point Isabel School Board of Trustees sat down for a preliminary discussion of their 2017-2018 fiscal budget. It was a sobering look at the year ahead, as the District will have to contend with a budget shortfall of more than three-quarters of a million dollars.

“Overall, we’re looking at a negative $763,000 because of state funding,” said Henry LeVrier, deputy superintendent for business and operations, during the first of many budget workshops the school board will undertake throughout the summer.

The lost funding is the result of the end of state aid program which has benefited school districts throughout the state since 2006. As Dr. Lisa Garcia, superintendent of schools, explained after the workshop, school districts that agreed to reduce their tax rates were promised additional state aid via a “hold harmless” provision known as Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction (ASATR).

“In 2006, the state legislature approved a hold-harmless for school districts that had a compressed tax rate and so the hold-harmless was state aid for tax compression called ASATR,” Garcia said. “But when the legislators, in all their wisdom, set it in 2006 they believed that we would fix the school finance system and have an equitable, adequate system by now and that has not happened.”

When legislators approved the ASATR provision they also set an expiration date of 2017. As LeVrier further explained to board trustees during the workshop, education officials statewide never thought the assistance would disappear overnight. “No one truly believed that it would be gone from one year to the next,” LeVrier said.

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