DSD looks OK after $1M loss

Dallas schools keep gains in spite of shortages to 2015-16 budget

DALLAS — The Dallas School District will manage its unexpected budget decrease without having to lay off employees.

A combination of changes in the district’s fifth-year program, how the state calculates poverty rates and declining enrollment added up to a $1 million loss to the district this fiscal year, ending on June 30.

But that doesn’t mean that pink slips will be needed to balance the budget.

“The positions that were reduced in the budget were done through attrition and reassignment of staff, not due to layoffs,” said Superintendent Michelle Johnstone at the first meeting of the district’s budget committee on Monday.

Programs added in the last two years will remain intact, as well.

The proposed budget continues electives at LaCreole Middle School, increased special education support and better access to technology added in the 2014-15 school year.

Full-year kindergarten, music instruction at Lyle and Oakdale Heights elementary schools and more special education staffing at Dallas High School added in the current year will continue.

Johnstone presented the 2016-17 budget on Monday, which reflects a smaller general fund of $31.6 million compared to $32.7 million in the current year. The overall budget is $47.3 million.

Resources to purchase more mobile devices and increased bandwidth throughout the district are in the 2016-17 budget.

Employees will see a 3 percent cost of living increase, per contracts signed in 2014-15.

However, the district’s contingency will be reduced by approximately $650,000 to $1 million, a figure district officials had hoped could be higher in anticipation of increased Public Employees Retirement System rates.

Johnstone noted highlights, including an improved graduation rate, a successful application for a seismic improvement grant for Whitworth Elementary School, beginning development of a “career technical education” (CTE) center at the high school, and “stem” (science, technology, engineering and math) programs at Whitworth.

“We are on the move, and we are on the move doing the right things for kids in terms of CTE as well as the stem programming,” she said.

The next budget committee meeting is May 16 at 6 p.m. at the district office, 111 SW Ash St., Dallas.

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