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AISD brainstorms more budget fixes

Thursday, June 18, 2015 by Courtney Griffin

Many hypotheticals were thrown out at the Austin Independent School District Board of Trustee’s workshop to help relieve budget woes, including possible changes to district policy. Chief Financial Officer Nicole Conley asked the board to consider adjusting the allowable amount AISD keeps in its reserve fund from 20 percent to a range of 15 to 20 percent. The figure might hurt AISD’s credit rating in the future, but Conley said she is working with AISD’s rating agency to see if it might reconsider the way it evaluates the district. She hopes the agency will see recaptured funds as something other than a liability. AISD’s reserves are based off its pre-recaptured fund balance, which means a larger portion of funds are placed into AISD’s reserves compared to the actual money the district is able to spend. This bars access to more funds as recapture increases and further undercuts spending in an already tight budget season. Conley also suggested moving the start of AISD’s fiscal year from September to July, starting in FY 2017. The change would be ongoing, but it would allow for a one-time bump in reserve levels and the general fund balance in FY 2017. Conley said this would align better with grant funding and general school funding. The board will consider changing the fiscal year at the July 22 meeting.

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