DALLAS — Expecting a budget deficit of about $14.7 million for next year, officials at the Plano Independent School District may raise the tax rate and cut various expenses to plug the shortfall.

Trustees of the suburban district 20 miles north of Dallas will vote on the budget June 17 following a public meeting.  

Included in the proposed budget is a 3% pay raise for teachers, librarians, nurses, counselors, and all other support staff, and a 2% raise for most administrative positions.

The proposed tax rate for the coming school year is a little more than $1.30 per $100 of taxable assessed value, which is an increase of about three-and-a-half cents from the current rate.

Some travel and athletic expenses may be reduced to help fund the budget shortfall. Calls to district officials weren’t returned by press time.

Earlier this month, 71.6% of voters approved the largest bond package ever for the district — $490 million — for four new campuses on the east side and technology upgrades across the district.

With the passage of the latest bond referendum, voters within the district have overwhelmingly approved six bond elections since 1997 for a total of $1.26 billion.

Completion of these new schools may signal the end of the district’s more than 40-year construction run. In 1960, less than 3,700 people lived in Plano. Now the city’s population is nearing 270,000 and is more than double the 1990 Census tally of about 129,000.

The school district currently serves an enrollment of nearly 55,000 students in 68 schools.

Plano ISD carries underlying ratings of AA from both Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings, and Aa1 from Moody’s Investors Service.

Analysts listed as credit strengths the district’s “deep, diversified economic and employment base, significantly above-average wealth and income levels, and good financial management practices and sound reserves.”

The district’s current taxable-assessed valuation of $33.21 billion is up 20% from fiscal 2004.

Standard & Poor’s said the high debt burden with significant capital needs and modest taxing flexibility preclude a higher rating. Plano ISD has about $880 million of debt outstanding.

First Southwest Co. is the financial adviser to the district while Fulbright & Jaworski LLP serves as  bond counsel.

In addition to Plano, the school district draws students from Dallas, Richardson, Parker, Murphy, and Allen, and serves a total population of about 380,000.

 

 

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