May 15, 2018

Plains ISD is working on the 2018-2019 budget and shared an update with the Board at our regular meeting last night. With a September 1-August 31 fiscal year, the District shall adopt a budget by August 31, 2018. Estimated values are $672,840,460. This estimate is a 2% increase from the 2017 Certified values and a 17% increase from estimated values provided in 2017. The 2017 Certified values were $661, 266,249. The 2018 estimated values are up 27% from 2016 when values were $488,853,325, are down 10% from 2015 when they were $746,262,427, and 41% less than they were in 2014 when values exceed a billion. These declines have impacted the tax rates over the past three to four years. Early projections indicate we will have significantly less to operate on in 2018-2019 than we do this year as we are anticipating over $2 million going back to the state in recapture.

On the interest and sinking (bond/debt) side, the slight increase in values (yet to be certified and can change) should allow us to keep our I & S tax rate close to the current rate for the coming year. When we set our 2018 tax rate we set it at a rate that will bring in tax collections in the amount of $ 3,599,250 for the 2019 bond payments (principal, interest, and fees).

While oil prices have been on the incline over the year when the Energy Information Administration set the price based on their forecast in October 2017, they set the oil benchmark price at $50.57 (last year $49.99) even though prices in January  2018 were in the $60 range. The gas price was set at $3.13 ($3.06 last year) with a January price of $3.88.

A challenge we are confronted with is the loss of ASATR (Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction) which expired September 2017. Plains ISD had been receiving ASATR funds since the Texas Legislature passed HB 1 in 2006 reducing property tax rates by one-third. Through this “Target Revue”, schools were guaranteed the same per-WADA (weighted average daily attendance) funding level, despite the loss of revenue from local property taxes. In 2011, the State made dramatic cuts to public education funding and applied a percentage reduction to ASATR. With this change in state funding, the District has lost approximately $2.1 million in ASATR revenue from the State. In addition as a Chapter 41 property wealthy district, we are expecting to send over $2 million back to the state in the form of recapture. It is projected that in the coming year, the State’s portion of funding public education will have dropped below 39% (that includes the State counting recaptured funds from Chapter 41 districts like Plains as state money going to public schools). Therefore, local taxpayers are footing about 61% of the bill for public schools (with a recapture district it is even higher).

Since June 2015, the district has reduced the number of employees on payroll and looked for other ways to be more efficient while still providing an outstanding education and co/extra-curricular opportunities for our Cowboys & Cowgirls. We also work to maintain competitive salaries and benefits for our employees.

We appreciate the ongoing support of the community. Our students, faculty, and staff are fortunate to be in a community that is rich in tradition. If you have any questions, you can reach me at (806) 456-1300 or via email showard@plainsisd.net.

Sincerely,
Stephanie Howard Ed.D
Superintendent, Plains ISD