It’s budget time again. We’ll be voting on the 1999-2000 budget at the August 16 meeting. As I write this article in late June, these are our estimates.

This year’s total budget will be around $215 million, up $12.6 million over last year. Ninety percent of this increase is due to teacher pay raises. Our budget is funded 96 percent through local taxes and revenue sources. The state contributes about 4 percent or $8.7 million.

Because we are a property wealthy district, we are subject to “recapture,” which means that under Robin Hood, we send a substantial amount of our tax revenues to Austin to be distributed to less affluent school districts. Here’s a look at how recapture is growing.






$25,193,556 (projected)


$34,406,088 (projected)


$40,283,939 (projected)

This year, the Legislature voted to pass state budget surplus funds to schools in the form of $3,000-pay increases for each teacher. The way this process works for us is that instead of giving RISD any funds, the state will reduce our recapture amount by about $8.4 million. That’s why the 99—00 recapture amount looks low.

The $3,000 teacher raise actually costs RISD $9.4 million, so state credits create a $1 million shortfall. The $3,000 raise is forever, so our tax dollars must cover the shortfall in all future years.

The good news is that RISD has been proactively planning for this event, and we are in great shape financially!

Last year, we adopted a teacher pay plan whereby for each year of experience, a teacher receives a $675 raise. Teachers with Masters degrees start $795 higher than those with Bachelors, and Doctorates start $1,540 higher still.

Not only are we giving our teachers the $3,000, but we’re also granting their standard $675 step increases. As I write, most Metroplex districts are struggling to figure out how to pay just the $3,000.

In addition, we’ve achieved our goal of market-competitive salaries. Our starting salary of $31,500 is tied for first, and salaries for five years’ experience or more are the highest in the Metroplex. We are the competition.

As a result, we’ve had modest turnover this year and can afford to be fussy about who we hire and retain. We expect to open school with all teacher positions filled.

Your trustees and administration work hard to anticipate the changing education landscape in order to keep RISD strong.