Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Gregory-Portland ISD has overcome major obstacles for our students. Our ability to do so has been contingent on one major factor: funding. Purchasing equipment and materials necessary to transform learning for students at a distance (when needed), increasing safety procedures, and covering additional employee hours paid for staff to implement a myriad of changes has made navigating the pandemic complex from many angles, including identifying the funds to make all of those changes happen.
Our vision to educate, inspire, and empower, encapsulates district plans in motion to ensure an academic return on investment for our students – even during COVID times. When our superintendent presented the district’s balanced scorecard to our board of trustees, it was approved and endorsed by the board with four key priorities including: Priority 4 – efficient and effective district and campus operations. The goals and plans being developed as part of the scorecard are now driving our efforts across the system to streamline and strengthen the fiscal arm that supports all other operations across the district. I’m extremely proud to share that our business and finance team has been resilient and committed to doing what is right for students and staff through COVID-19, consistent with the charge to do so in any school year – pandemic, or no pandemic. Our ability to operate efficiently across the district depends on our ability to budget, spend, and plan wisely.
This year on Aug. 23, our school board adopted the 2021-2022 school year budget designed to provide a safe and conducive environment for teaching and learning. Approximately $75 million was cited for projected revenues, and $62 million adopted for projected expenditures. This budget included an anticipated surplus at year-end of approximately $13 million. A total tax rate of $1.2103 was adopted. Due to a statewide public school tax rate compression under House Bill 3 (2019), this is approximately $0.14 lower than the 2018-2019 total tax rate and is set to continue declining each year for G-PISD provided that there no changes to current state legislation.
All public school budgets are comprised with human capital – teacher and staff salaries – accounting for about 80% of annual expenses. G-PISD’s budget is closely aligned to this average. Regardless of the uncertainty this pandemic has displayed, our leadership recognizes the incredible contributions of G-P Wildcat educators and staff during this immensely challenging time, and our salary scales reflect the investment we are making in our people for the ultimate benefit of our students. The remaining 20% of a school budget is then left to manage and operate the remaining aspects of running an educational institution.
Principals and directors, in collaboration with their budget committees, were asked to plan for anticipated expenses in the upcoming school year. Some examples of conversational components for these committees include instructional materials, health services, fine arts, libraries, extra-curricular, safety, security, and all other school-related activities.
Nonetheless, the pandemic played a vital role in all these conversations. The technological investments made last school year must stay at the forefront of budget conversations, given the uncertainty we face. In addition, safety and health supplies and preventive measures are imperative components that were considered during the budget development process.
Looking ahead to the remainder of this year with a new budget, and the years ahead, there has never been a more important time to value and elevate financial transparency, planning, and strategic budgeting processes.