The Three Rivers Independent School District anticipates a budget of just over $24.7 million for the 2021-22 school year, with a total tax rate of $1.391 per $100 property valuation to support maintenance and operations and interest for the district.
The district is expected to receive $1.1 million in federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds from the federal government, which public schools nationwide are also receiving.
Angelia Anderson, business office manager for the district, said about $600,000 of these funds will go toward teacher salaries.
“We’re going to use it wisely, and when we receive that money it requires an additional audit,” she said. “They will be incremental payments, we haven’t received anything yet.”
Anderson said the ESSER funds will help the district have a balanced budget, something the district has struggled to accomplish in recent years because of the state’s recapture system. That requires districts which are considered wealthy by the state to help fund other districts. TRISD recently paid $13 million to the state based on local taxes collected.
“Having a balanced budget is a big thing; we weren’t able to do that previously,” said Superintendent Les Dragon.
“Correct,” Anderson said. “We were in the red (showing a deficit) last year.”
Anderson said the district currently has $4 million in the fund balance but that the district may have to reduce that amount to meet the state’s recapture requirements.
Increased enrollment in the district will help TRISD keep more money locally to help serve its own students, she said.
“Enrollment now is really good; we are headed in the right direction.”
As of Aug. 23, a week after the first day of school, TRISD had 584 students enrolled, Dragon said
“If we do have 584, we will potentially have more savings from recapture,” Anderson said.
Dragon noted another savings is that TRISD will not need to purchase any new school buses for the current school year but said in the near future “we’ll be looking at replacing one for sure.”
Anderson said the district’s property values “stayed about as close to steady as you could get. There was a slight drop, but it was very, very minor.”
Dragon said the district has been able to maintain having one of the lowest tax rates in the region.
“It’s pretty safe to say we will have one of the lower tax rates in the Coastal Bend,” he said.
“It’s going to be competitive, but we were one of the four districts with the lowest tax rates in the Coastal Bend, and we should be in that range again,” Anderson said.
In other action:
• The board approved 10 days paid leave for the 2021-22 school year for employees who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or who are recommended by a physician to be quarantined.
• Set the next meeting for 6 p.m. Sept. 20.