Gonzales ISD could be in jeopardy of losing revenue from the Texas Education Agency due to a dip in both average daily attendance and enrollment, the district’s chief financial officer told trustees at the October board meeting.
“Our actual average daily attendance is lower than what we actually anticipated during the budget development,” CFO Amanda Smith said on Monday, Oct. 11. “Unless enrollment and attendance increase, we will not hit our revenue targets for this year, so we are very anxious to get our hands on an updated revenue estimate for this year.”
In September 2020, the district had an enrollment of 2,681 students and an average daily attendance (ADA) of 94.27 percent, which included remote learning that was in place at the time. During the budgeting process, the district was anticipating an ADA of 2,393 students and an enrollment of X students.
Through September 2021, the district had an ADA of 2,279 students, which was 114 below what had been budgeted, which represented about 89.04 percent.
As of Monday, Oct. 19, enrollment stands at 2,629 students and ADA is up to 90.49 percent, or about 2,379 students.
Smith said the district will likely have a better idea of what the current year’s state funding revenue will be at the end of the second six weeks, which is Friday, Nov. 5.
“The reason it takes that long is that, at the beginning of the year, every year, attendance is very volatile, but not all of our state funding is based on attendance,” Smith explained. “Some is based on enrollment and that snapshot is taken on the last Friday of October on what we refer to as our PEIMS snapshot day.
“We’re aiming to have an updated revenue estimate to you at the November board meeting, allowing time for data entry and validation at the end of the second six weeks. A more realistic idea is the December meeting to have a really solid number. Once we have that updated projection, we will make a recommendation to you with whether we proceed with our year with our expenditures as we currently have them planned, or if we amend our budget to bring it more in line with what we are actually anticipating.
“We know all too well the demands on our educational system have increased dramatically in recent years and the resources coming into our district have not necessarily kept up with the demand of what is going out,” Smith added.
PEIMS, which is the Public Education Information Management System, is the data system used by the TEA for all public educational information, including student demographic and academic performance, personnel, financial, and organizational information.
GISD assistant superintendent Robin Trojcak told the Inquirer the district is analyzing its ADA trends, which includes “both longitudinal and current ADA.”
“Our goal is to develop strategies to increase our average daily attendance,” Trojcak said. “We understand the correlation between student attendance and student learning.”
Smith also told trustees during the meeting the district is “still anticipating a $3 million surplus” for the 2020-21 fiscal year, but that is pending “reclassification of expenditures we are moving from state funding to federal funding, thanks to the state deciding they were going to once again supplant our budget and balance their own budget with those stimulus dollars the federal government had earmarked for Gonzales ISD.”
Board member Justin Schwausch told Smith his understanding was that the state had reduced its funding to GISD by $2.66 million.
“That is money the state supplanted, so effectively, they are not sending us that money for last year and we covered that with our own fund balance for now,” said Schwausch, which Smith affirmed.
“If we didn’t have a strong fund balance, we would have an issue because the state chose not to send us $2.66 million.,” Schwausch added. “We are potentially getting grant funds to cover this from the federal government, but while the expenditures we had are for 2020-21, we will hopefully get the money to cover this in 2021-22, but we don’t know when we’re going to get that money.”
Smith also said the TEA had given the district a Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) rating of A or Superior at 98 percent for the 2019-20 fiscal year.
“That is the highest rating available and we are required to hold ac public hearing and will do so at the November meeting,” she added.