Lockhart ISD Board approves $710,000 deficit budget for 2023-2024 School Year, explores additional revenue sources



Lockhart Independent School District’s Board of Trustees approved a $710,000 deficit budget for the 2023-2024 school year on Monday evening amidst historic public school funding gaps across Texas and legislative inaction during the 88th Legislative Session.

Despite multiple opportunities presented, the Texas Legislature failed to address historic funding issues for public schools. It did not increase the basic allotment to account for high inflation, adjust funding calculations to reflect actual taxes collected by districts, or transition from attendance-based funding to enrollment-based funding.

Due to these funding gaps, the Board of Trustees was unable to provide staff raises and school supplies for all students from next year’s budget. However, staff will receive a one-time extra payment to be distributed in September. Salaried staff will receive $1,000 and hourly staff will receive $500. The school district will also work with HEB to provide support for school supplies for families who may need assistance through the “Stuff the Bus” program. 

LISD and nearly 150 other school districts — mainly in rural areas — are facing unprecedented levels of underfunding from the State of Texas this year. 

School districts are funded first through local property taxes, with the remainder of funding provided by the state. TEA calculates a district’s state funding by estimating how much tax revenue the district should collect based on local property values.

This year, however, county property appraisals in LISD’s taxing zone haven’t kept up with the Texas Comptroller’s rising property value estimates, leading to a $3 million deficit that the State of Texas will not fill.

“Lockhart ISD and many other school districts are navigating unparalleled funding shortages this year,” Superintendent Mark Estrada said. “While the one-time extra payment isn’t the long-term solution we hoped for, I hope it demonstrates our LockHeart for People and commitment to recognizing our staff’s contributions as we explore additional revenue sources to provide fair compensation.”

The most impactful revenue generating source is a Voter Approved Tax Ratification Election (VATRE) in November 2023, which upon passage would enable up to a 5.7 percent raise. Last November, LISD called for a VATRE that would have generated an additional $1M for staff raises and school safety this year, with no tax rate increase for voters. The 2023 VATRE is projected to generate over $2M while lowering the tax rate. 

Last year’s VATRE failed by 16 votes.

Other potential sources being considered include energy conservation, repurposing staff positions through attrition, and expanding participatory budgeting practices. 

 “Lockhart ISD is proud to have one of the lowest school tax rates in Central Texas and a consistent record of financial conservatism,” Chief Financial Officer Nicole Weiser said. “Our goal remains to provide the best education possible for students while being good stewards of the funds provided by our community and state.”

“Financial stability for our staff and fair pay in public education is crucial, especially during these economic times,” Estrada added. “Staff compensation is key to ensuring we can retain and recruit the best teachers for Lockhart students.”

Last year, the district passed a historic compensation plan, becoming one of the highest-paying districts in Central Texas for veteran teachers with years of service from any school district.

In other business:

Members of the Lockhart High School Roaring Lion Band were recognized with Legacy of Excellence Coins for their April appearance at legendary Carnegie Hall in New York. The students were honored at Monday night’s LISD Board meeting.

“Lockhart would not be Lockhart without the Roaring Lion Band,” said LISD Communications Specialist Heather Smith.


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