LISD CFO Mike Ball explains the ins and outs of the FY 2019 budget. (Photo by Leopold Knopp)

The Lewisville ISD Board of Trustees approved its $498.5 million budget and tax rate for fiscal year 2019 Monday night, one that includes $34.5 million for the “Robin Hood” recapture program.

Despite this new payment, expenditures are only up $32.4 million overall, which is in line with recent years. Revenues are up by almost $33 million, which is much more than the least year’s increase. The tax rates will remain steady, with maintenance and operations holding at $1.04 and interest and sinking at $0.3675, for a combined tax rate of $1.4075 per $100 in taxable property value. Residents can examine the full budget online.

The state’s Robin Hood recapture plan requires “property rich” school districts to pay money back to the state according to a formula that weighs assessed property value within the district against weighted average daily attendance for students. Since property value for a given school year is known at the start, but attendance is calculated after the year is over, figuring out exactly how much the school will pay into the recapture program is always something of a guessing game during the year itself.

LISD spent most of last year under the impression that it would owe $700,000 back to the state, but recently discovered it may not owe anything at all just yet. The district believed it had been thrown into recapture by an unexpected drop in enrollment discovered last December.

The district is spending slightly less in several areas, including instruction and school leadership, to make up that difference. However, CFO Mike Ball noted specifically that no programs were cut in order to make room for the recapture payment. Ball said that while they had to make an educated guess at what next year’s payment might be, they couldn’t know for certain.

“It does bear saying that that number is going to change, because at the end of the day it’s based on weighted average daily attendance for the 2018-19 school year,” he said. “We are forecasting the weighted average daily attendance, and that will have a direct impact around on that recapture penalty.”

District revenues are up by almost $33 million after increasing by only $6.6 million from fiscal year 2017 to 2018, without raising the tax rate. This increase is almost entirely accounted for by a $32.4 million increase in local tax collection, which went up because of a district-wide spike in property values.

As he advised the board to pass the proposed budget, Ball noted that it would be functionally illegal for them not to do so – the law requires school districts have a budget at the start of the fiscal year, which for LISD, is this Saturday, Sept. 1. Since budgets are required to be published online for a period of weeks and in print newspapers, this meant the board was essentially legally required to pass this budget.

At board member Jenny Proznik’s request, communications officer Amanda Brim went over the online engagement for the draft budget. Since it was posted the weekend of Aug. 10, Brim said the page has been viewed 93 times. LISD’s home page has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times during that timespan, Brim said. Brim also said the district sent out emails linking to the draft budget. Out of those emails, 180 were opened, and out of those, 23 recipients clicked on the link to the budget.