Brownsville ISD adopts $561.5M budget

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The Brownsville Independent School District on Thursday adopted a $561.5 million operating budget for the 2024-2025 school year that was recommended by the administration.

The district’s Board of Trustees adopted the budget after a public hearing at a special called board meeting. The district is required by law to adopt a balanced budget before July 1, the beginning of its fiscal year.

The budget’s adoption marked the key step in a process that begins each year in January.

The budget is based on preliminary property values from the Cameron County Appraisal District, which were released April 30, total $8.76 billion and show a 10.8% increase over 2023, when they totaled $7.91 billion.

The Cameron County Appraisal District will release certified tax values in mid-July and BISD will set its tax rate in September, Chief Financial Officer Alejandro Cespedes said.

The budget process has included an effort to “right size” the district and was made more difficult again this year due to the absence of new state funding for public education. The Texas Legislature is holding onto billions of dollars in funding for public schools in a showdown with Gov. Greg Abbott in his bid to allow parents to access public school funds to pay for private schools through vouchers.

After the March primaries, Abbott and his allies are claiming they have the votes to push through a voucher plan during the 89th Legislature, which convenes in January.

On Thursday, BISD announced the 2024-2025 budget’s approval, saying it also includes a 2% pay raise for all employees.

“We are pleased to announce that after diligent and collaborative efforts with our board of trustees, administration, and principals, we have successfully approved a budget for the upcoming 2024-2025 school year,” BISD Superintendent Jesus H. Chavez, stated in a news release following the budget’s adoption.

“Our team’s dedication and strategic planning have allowed us to create a budget that prioritizes the educational needs of our students while maintaining fiscal responsibility. This allows our commitment to providing quality education and ensuring the best possible outcomes for our students and community,” Chavez stated in the release.

The budget projects BISD will receive approximately $438.7 million in state and local revenues in the coming year and approximately $99.1 million from federal programs and other sources.

The 2024-25 employee compensation plan will include:

>> A 2% general pay increase for all employees off the midpoint of their respective pay grade.

>> $55,000 starting pay for teachers and librarians.

>> Counselors, professional and non-teaching professional staff will receive a 2% general pay increase off the midpoint of their respective pay grade, along with strategic adjustments for eligible staff to be closer to market value.

>> Para-professionals and classified employees will receive a 2% general pay increase off the midpoint of their respective pay grade and will receive an additional adjustment as part of the second phase of the decompression for eligible staff on their respective classified placement scale.