Valuations to help FISD through tough times

FORSAN — No school administrator is ever going to feel good about losing revenue, but some losses end up stinging less than others, it seems.Such is shaping up to be the case for Forsan Independent School District, which is dealing with a 3 percent cut in state revenue as it prepares a budget for the coming fiscal year. In addition, the district also is facing an increase in the “Robin Hood” payment it must make to the state for being a so-called “property rich” school district.Even with a lot of money either going out of the district or not coming in as expected, FISD officials said the financial outlook for the next fiscal year is brightening somewhat.“We presented the first draft of the budget to the school board earlier this month, and it was a very tight budget,” FISD Superintendent Randy Johnson said. “At the time, it looked like we'd end up $120,000 in the red if we did not do further cutting. But we've received some updated information in the past few days … and things are looking better than they did, and we're estimating that we'll have a balanced budget.”The major source of good news for the school district is an increase in property valuations, which Johnson believes will go a long way toward offsetting the projected shortfalls in other areas.“We feel a lot better about things than we we did two weeks ago,” Johnson said.With the increased local revenue, Forsan is looking to get back on track with some budget items that have been pushed to the side in recent years.“One area we're looking at is buses, plus there are several ongoing maintenance projects on our facilities,” Johnson said.Forsan ISD has tried to follow a 10-year cycle on replacing its fleet of “yellow dog” buses — which cost close to $100,000 apiece — but hasn't purchased a new vehicle for two years.“We were hoping to buy a route bus this past year, but we had trouble with some of our other vehicles, so we had to put that off,” Johnson said. “If you can make those buses last 10 years, you've done well, so we really need to buy one each year to remain on that cycle.”Forsan school officials will finalize the budget and tax rate for the coming fiscal year in late August.