Frisco ISD looking at budget cuts after $30 million shortfall

The Frisco ISD school board started taking a serious look at budget cuts to make up for an anticipated $30 million shortfall next school year.

The funding would’ve come from a property tax hike that voters rejected late last month.

A representative from a teachers association said the news is a bitter pill to swallow for teachers.

The district discussed ideas for next the budget during Tuesday night’s emergency meeting. The top ideas were not opening four new schools, a salary freeze for all employees and an extra fee to play extra-curricular activities.

"[The ideas were] things that were looked at and analyzed as a possibility before the election,” said Frisco ISD Spokesperson Chris Moore. “And now that the election did not pass, we're bringing ‘em back to the table."

Frisco has a unique challenge. After urban sprawl and explosive growth over the past decade, the district is left trying to fund the day-to-day costs of new schools, buildings and facilities.

The 13-cent property tax increase voters struck down would have funded that well into the future as well as cover salary increases approved last year with hopes the vote would pass.

The district is quick to point out the $30 million shortfall and the $30 million the district paid to lease the new Star Complex are not the same.

"They're two different avenues of funding, and there's no overlay there,” explained Moore. “It was unfortunate that that was something that was perceived by a lot of folks."

Looming budget cuts make elementary teacher Karen Dilworth nervous.  She's the president of the UEA in Frisco and says one of the real possibilities of these proposed cuts is larger class sizes, which would make things harder for educators.

"We've been loyal to the district, and we believe in the district,” said Dilworth. “It's really hard to accept that we're not being valued."

There's also $30 million that used to come from a state fund, which will disappear next year.

The first thing the district will do is create a committee to look at some of the other things that could be cut that might not hurt as badly like staff travel, professional development and staff hiring.