WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — It’s budget time for Wichita Falls ISD. The board of trustees met for preliminary budget talks.

The district has received millions in federal and state funds for this year’s budget.

But with state funds depending on student enrollment, they are a little alarmed at this past school year’s decrease in enrollment numbers.

“We don’t know how many students are gonna come back this year or if we’re gonna see an increase or a decrease again,” WFISD Superintendent Mike Kuhrt said.

Kuhrt says the district earns more than $6,000 per student in state funding. With the district seeing 600 fewer students this past school year, he says this decrease could lead to a budget deficit.

“$3.95 million or so is the decrease in funding that comes with that. So what we’re proposing or what we’re bringing to you is a balanced budget that includes an ESSER offset.”

WFISD has received $31.2 million in elementary and secondary school emergency relief or ESSER funds.

The current proposal is for the funds to be used over the next three years on things like school facility repairs, remote learning, and health protocols.

“We’re being very careful on how we use it because we don’t wanna start getting into a situation where we hire a whole bunch of folks then three years from now we’re letting them all go. And same thing with any kind of new programs or software,” WFISD Associate Superintendent Peter Griffiths said.

Kuhrt also says the ESSER funds can help organize the budget to prepare for the new high schools that were voted on last year.

“24-25 school year, we’re gonna have three high schools. It gives us time to figure that out as far as exact staffing we’re gonna need and the same thing is gonna happen with the middle schools,” Kuhrt said.

And that rising property values will make the tax rate increase not as high as previously thought.

“What we told everybody the bond was gonna cost was 32 cents. It looks like it’s gonna be closer to around 27 cents. Still generates the same amount of money it’s just property values went up,” Kuhrt said.

Also proposed in the budget, teachers will get a step up in pay that they didn’t receive this past school year along with the step that they will receive next school year.

All other staff will receive a 1% pay increase.

The budget will be approved on June 30 and the tax rate will be set in August.