Our commitment to excellence in education is not possible without the continued support of our stakeholders, including our taxpayers. At Alief ISD the duty of wisely managing taxpayer dollars and maintaining fiscal responsibility is a priority. I would like to take this opportunity to share some financial updates about Alief ISD, including many related to the 2015 Bond Referendum.
The Board of Trustees approved the 2016-17 fiscal year budget of $484 million during the August 30 Board Meeting. This includes funds for general operations ($426.1 million), debt repayments ($30.6 million) and providing meals to our students ($27.2 million). Let me share with you where the bulk of that money goes. Sixty-five percent of the general operating budget is for direct instructional and classroom services. Other major categories include 8.7 percent for plant maintenance and operations, 6.7 percent for educational leadership, 4.8 percent for student counseling and advising, and 3.3 percent for student transportation. As a point of reference, less than 2 percent of the budget goes toward district administration.
To support those expenditures, the Alief ISD Board of Trustees also approved the total tax rate of $1.305 per $100 of assessed value. The tax rate is comprised of $1.125 for maintenance and operations (the general fund) and $0.180 for the interest and sinking (debt service).
You may recall that during the 2015 Bond Referendum, the district advertised that the tax rate for 2016-17 that would be required to support the new debt issued would be $0.185 – an increase of 3 cents. Due to better than projected interest rates on the first installment of debt issued from the referendum and a refunding of existing outstanding debt, the debt service rate is $0.18 – one half penny less than expected.
I am proud to share with you that, currently, Alief ISD has the second lowest debt service rate in the Houston area. Even with the 2.5-cent increase, the tax rate is significantly below the average for the Houston area and remains one of the lowest across the Greater Houston region. In addition, our current debt per student of $3,943 is the lowest in the Houston area – less than half of the amount of the next closest district.
Debt per Student
Alief ISD: $3,943
Aldine ISD: $8,913
Houston ISD: $17,786
Ft. Bend ISD: $19,498
Cy Fair ISD: $28,451
Katy ISD: $28,555
Spring Branch ISD: $33,911
Tomball ISD: $44,450
I mentioned the first installment of debt issued from the 2015 Bond Referendum. The major projects included in the first bond sale from the referendum included the Alief Career Center, a Fine Arts addition at Kerr High School, an addition to Outley Elementary school and a gymnasium addition at each of the six middle schools. All of these projects have been competitively bid and have been awarded at or below the project budget amounts. Due to the hard work and diligence of our staff, the largest project, the Alief Career Center, was awarded at approximately $12.4 million less than the project budget. Furthermore, the Kerr High School addition is approximately $785,000 under budget. These cost savings will result in a reduction in the amount of future bond sales which is expected to benefit all Alief ISD taxpayers.
I can assure you that the Alief ISD Board of Trustees and administration will continue to make prudent financial decisions without compromising the quality of education provided for each Alief ISD student.
Thank you for serving as a Key Communicator and I hope you enjoy the Labor Day Weekend.
Superintendent of Schools