Trustees continued a discussion on the 2019-20 budget to include record compensation increases for teachers and staff; tax relief for the community; new jobs to address 1,000 new students and the opening of a new school; and possible new programs and safety enhancements. 

The Board plans to adopt its budget at its Aug. 22 regular meeting.

The LISD community should see tax relief after the state legislature and Board of Trustees took action concerning property tax rates.

Trustees approved an additional $3,000 tax exemption for both of these groups. LISD already grants $10,000 tax exemptions to disabled individuals and individuals age 65 or older. This action comes in addition to relief granted by the state with House Bill 3, which requires all districts to compress their tier one tax rate. 

In calculating the tax rate for Leander ISD, the proposed operating budget is based on the maintenance and operations (M&O) tax rate of $0.97, down from $1.04. The Board is also considering a quarter-penny reduction to the interest and sinking (I&S) tax rate, setting the rate at $0.4675.

“It’s critical that we acknowledge the financial pressures of our community and respond when we can do so,” said Board President Trish Bode. “This is a way to do that as a part of our responsibility to taxpayers.” 

The proposed general operating budget is more than a 6% increase from the 2018–19 budget. Major factors for the increase include the need for additional personnel due to the projected enrollment growth and the opening of Larkspur Elementary School, as well as the pay increases to teacher and employee salaries and employer contribution to cover healthcare premiums. 

With just over $2 million of available funds in the 2019-20 budget, Trustees continued the discussion around security items and new academic programs. 

The Board will consider adding new security cameras, hiring School Resource Officers (SROs) for middle schools and implementing the A+ Academics program for elementary schools. As LISD manages the transition to a new superintendent, the Board may place funding for those projects in an undesignated or deferred fund to allow further discussion. 

As community members brought forth concerns about fees for staff members wanting to bring personal refrigerators, the Board discussed removing collected fees from the budget, totaling approximately $33,000. This would allow administration to create a policy for allowing staff members to have personal electrical devices. 

“I appreciate the ways our district has supported our teachers and staff,” Trustee Elexis Grimes said. “When we look at additional fees for teachers, do we want to consider this as a benefit or consider other items? I think we need to consider more unique ways to support our teachers.”