Victoria school district officials are hoping for a brighter financial outlook in the wake of receiving millions in state funding and a one-time $3 million reimbursement for Hurricane Harvey relief.
Victoria school district Superintendent Quintin Shepherd said the district is expecting a little more than $3 million from the state. A portion of the funds could be placed back into the district’s fund balance, he said. The district has had a declining fund balance for a few years.
The decline in the general fund is a combination of operational costs, stipends, less state funding for schools and Hurricane Harvey damages, district officials have said.
All decisions about funding will ultimately be made by the school board.
“Our fund balance took a pretty big hit with Harvey, so it does need some filling back up. One of the things we heard from taxpayers, when we talked about the 11-cent tax increase, was that we need to have a stable (fund) balance if and when another hurricane strikes,” Shepherd said.
In addition to the reimbursement, the school district will also see close to $7 million in funding from the state. Shepherd said some of those funds could also go toward the district fund balance, professional development and employee salaries.
The district is working through salary increase formulas for all district staff, teachers and support staff. At the last school board meeting, the board approved pay increases for district bus drivers.
“We are looking to do increases that are reasonable for all,” Shepherd said.
In addition to state funding, the district should also see additional funding through the merging of several campuses. Under the merger, the district would see $545,258 in maintenance savings and about $2.8 million in personnel savings. Those savings could cushion other district expenses, such as maintenance repairs and bus replacements, Shepherd said.
The Victoria school district was also accepted into the state-funded program called System of Great Schools. Only 17 other school districts were accepted into the program, Shepherd said.
“It allows us access to funds that will benefit all our students,” he said.
Through the program, the district could see additional school programs, he said.
“It’s an incredibly exciting time to be in Victoria. We’ve set the stage to springboard some pretty fantastic things in the future,” Shepherd said. “I’m excited for our community and for our kids and the opportunities that will be available to our children in the coming years.”