Architectural firms also selected to lead work for 2022 bond projects
The Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees held its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Tuesday, June 28. During the meeting, the Board of Trustees adopted a balanced budget for the 2022-23 school year.
Montgomery ISD’s $85M budget for the 2022-2023 school year includes employee raises that were adopted in the district’s compensation plan by the board in April. Under the updated Montgomery ISD 2022-23 compensation plan, teachers will receive a $2,000 raise (approximately 3.5%), with all other employees receiving a 3% salary increase. Additionally, all employees returning to MISD next year will receive a $1,000 retention stipend, with “high needs” positions in specialized learning and transportation receiving an additional $500.
The 2022-23 budget also includes investments in school security, Special Education, and Gifted & Talented programs. These investments include two additional district police personnel, which will bring a total of seven new positions to the district’s police department since 2020. With the two new positions allocated for 2022-23, the department will have the personnel to ensure each campus has a dedicated police officer. The budget also includes a Gifted and Talented Coordinator and increased Specialized Learning Department staffing.
“A school district’s budget should be a reflection of the community’s values,” Board Vice President Laurie Turner said. “We are pleased that the budget is balanced, our teachers and staff are receiving pay increases, and there are targeted investments to continue our district’s commitment to enhance school security and add positions for specialized learning needs – all important priorities for our community.”
In addition to these items included in the budget, trustees authorized the purchases of “vape detection” systems to be placed at both high schools and identification cards that will be required to be visibly worn by all students in the 2022-23 school year. More information on student ID cards will be shared by the district prior to the start of the 2022-23 school year. The district is also in the process of purchasing handheld wands for campus security personnel. These items are intended to enhance the district’s continued focus on school safety and security.
“Maintaining a balanced budget while providing our outstanding teachers and staff members with pay increases are goals we aim to achieve every year, and I’m proud we continued to make these top priorities,” Board President Matt Fuller said. “I’m especially proud that we achieved these important goals despite receiving below the state average in terms of funding per student. Over the last several months we have been exploring our school district’s revenues and are concerned about a growing gap as it relates to what Montgomery ISD receives per student compared to other school districts.”
In 2016-2017, Montgomery ISD received $7,499 per student, with the state average being $9,577 per student – a difference of $2,078. In 2019-2020, Montgomery ISD received $8,070 per student, with the state average being $10,810 – a difference of $2,740.
Montgomery ISD is also considered a “property wealthy” school district in Texas state school finance law. As a result, the district is subject to a provision under the law often referred to as “recapture” or “Robin Hood”, whereby the district must send a portion of its local property tax revenues to the state for redistribution to other school districts and charter schools. For 2022-23, approximately 75% of the district’s general fund revenues will be sourced from local property tax collections, with the remaining 25% coming from state and federal sources. In May 2022, the district was required to send $548,521 in local tax revenues to the state under recapture, bringing the district’s total amount of recapture to $6.5 million since 2013. The district’s recapture obligation is expected to increase in 2023 due to rising property values.
“We have already engaged in productive conversations with our state legislative delegation regarding the revenue and recapture concerns we are experiencing in Montgomery ISD,” Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison said. “We’re looking forward to working with them as they prepare for the 2023 legislative session. Without targeted changes to state school finance formulas, the funding gap between MISD and other school districts will continue to widen and we will be challenged to maintain a balanced budget while prioritizing enhancing employee compensation and other programs desired by the community.”
The district’s total tax rate is currently $1.26 per $100 of assessed value. With voter approval of the district’s $326.7 million bond proposal in the May 2022 election, the rate is anticipated to increase by less than a penny to $1.267, once all bonds are sold. However, under state property tax compression law, Montgomery ISD anticipates that the tax rate will be reduced this fall by approximately three cents to $1.23 due to the recent increase in assessed property values.
The board and district have also taken action on items related to the voter-approved bond package. Trustees authorized the sale of $99 million in bonds to begin work for Elementary 7 and Phase 2 of Lake Creek High School. The interest rate associated with this bond sale will not necessitate an increase to the district’s tax rate.
The Board, at a recent special meeting also approved the selection of two architectural firms to lead the design of major bond projects.
Huckabee Architects was selected for phase two of Lake Creek HS, Elementary School 7, the MISD Career and Technical Education Center and the MISD Ag-Science Center. Huckabee will also design the facility upgrades at Keenan ES, Oak Hills JH and Lake Creek HS.
PBK Architects has been selected for the MISD Athletic Complex as well as facility upgrades at the other seven MISD campuses, including Montgomery, Lincoln, Madeley Ranch, Lone Star, and Stewart Creek elementary schools and both Montgomery HS and Montgomery JH.
“We are very excited to continue our partnership with Huckabee Architects and begin a new relationship with PBK Architects,” Morrison said. “Each of these firms is highly respected and we are more than confident that they will contribute extraordinary value as we design facilities that will not only accommodate our growing district but also make our community proud of the educational learning environments available to students.”
The district anticipates providing the community with additional bond updates regarding land acquisition and the selection of a construction manager at-risk for Lake Creek High School and Elementary School #7 in the coming weeks.