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Weatherford ISD

Board closes in on budget

Legislative special session SB2 adoption guides process


With the 2023-24 school year merely days away from starting, the Weatherford ISD Board of Trustees is now one step closer to finalizing and voting on the annual budget. 

After a budget workshop in June where Lori Boswell, Assistant Superintendent of Business and Operations, was only able to give hypothetical numbers due to the Texas Legislature still being in session debating property taxes, Monday’s regular board meeting (Aug. 1) provided a clearer picture. 

Though not finalized, it’s likely the tax rate per $100,000 valuation will decrease to $1.0365 from the 2022 rate of $1.2219. The Maintenance & Operation (M&O) side yields the lower rate of .7575 cents (down from .8538 in 2022) and the Interest and Sinking (I&S) remains the same at .2790 cents.  

The M&O tax rate provides funds strictly for the maintenance and operations of the district while the I&S tax rate provides funds for payment on any debt that finances a district’s facilities and can only be used for those expenditures.

Boswell told trustees that once the property tax question was settled and SB2 was adopted, the district received certified values from the Parker County Appraisal District and revenue projections could then be formulated. 

“When we met in June, I had a lot of ‘might be’ and ‘could be’ scenarios,” she said. “Tonight, I have a better idea.”

SB2 limits the capability of a local government entity to generate revenue and provide services by lowering the tax a county can adopt without a rollback election. The bill also makes changes to the process on how a county chooses to adopt a tax rate, the way a county calculates that rate, and the overall appraisal process. 

The Homestead Exemption was also increased to $100,000. 

Conservatively, at the June meeting, Boswell had estimated a 25-percent increase in certified values but those numbers came in closer to 30 percent, allowing the district to project an 18-cent decrease in the tax rate. 

Even with the lower rate, if approved in late August by trustees, WISD’s overall revenue will increase to an approximate $94.7 million from the previous conservative estimate of $92.9 million. 

Despite that, WISD will likely still need to dip into its $40.5 million fund balance as expenditures are estimated at $99.6 million for the year.

Board member Jeff Ford asked if there was any leeway for the board to be able to move the tax rate and minimize using the fund balance. Boswell cited that now that SB2 has been adopted, passage of a tax ratification election would allow the rate to be increased. 

Board president Mike Guest said the district has made some savvy fiscal moves over the past few years and praised the efforts of staff and trustees.

“We are very blessed in this community,” he said. “We’ve done a lot of work on our own to have less bond debt and one of the lowest – if not the lowest – tax rates in the state.”

Boswell cautioned that what was presented relies on the fact that the Legislature will keep the current school financing structure in place.

There will be another budget work session in mid-August before the budget is adopted on Aug. 28. 

Also at the meeting:

Trustees heard about changes to the 2023-24 student handbook, the main being changing personnel names to reflect current roles and a requirement that Narcan be on-hand if needed. Narcan is used in suspected or known opioid overdoses in an emergency.

The 2023-24 Code of Conduct changes were highlighted for the board that included the passage of HB114, which mandates that any student caught with an e-cigarette is required to go to the Bridge Academy, unless it is full. HB1427 was expanded to cover disposable phones in cases of harassment and SB37 provided options on better reporting of hazing.


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