GALVESTON — The city’s public school system will operate at a deficit for a fifth consecutive year, following the approval of the district’s budget Monday.

The budget passed by the Galveston Independent School District Board of Trustees anticipates $68.4 million in expenditures and $66.7 million in revenues.

The district has run a deficit budget since 2010, when the Texas Education Agency adjusted the formula through which the district receives state funding, district Chief Financial Officer David Dworsky said Tuesday.

In 2010, the district had a $16 million deficit. That number has decreased in subsequent years. 

Officials said they hoped the district would be able to present a balanced budget in coming years, particularly if the state legislature restores education funding during the 2015 session or if parts of Texas’ school finance laws are declared unconstitutional. The district is budgeted to send $12.9 million to the state next year to be redistributed to property-poor districts.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen by next year,” Dworsky said, adding that the district’s budget could be balanced if the schools wanted to cut certain services. 

“We could balance the budget in a heartbeat by cutting programs. But we haven’t cut any programs. We have not substantially changed anything in the districts.”

The district has more than $30 million in its fund balance that will be used to cover the deficit, a district spokesman said.

The school board passed a budget earlier than it does most years, because of the time needed to hold a tax ratification election.

That election will ostensibly be to raise the district’s tax rate by 2 cents in order to provide raises for district employees. However, even if tax rate is approved, the district’s tax rate will still be a cent less than the current school year.

In the approved budget, the district has already included a 3-cent decrease in the portion of the tax rate that goes toward paying back debt. However, the district wants voters to forego that decrease in favor of a smaller one. The district cannot increase the tax that pays for the maintenance and operations fund — which pays teacher salaries — without getting voter approval.

The election will be Aug. 26.

Contact reporter John Wayne Ferguson at 409-683-5226 or john.ferguson@galvnews.com.

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