As Frisco ISD looks ahead to the future, it is taking enrollment trends into account.
For the ninth-largest district in the state and one of the fastest-growing, enrollment projections played a large role as the district considered its latest budget, which was passed by the Board of Trustees in June.
The $651.3 million general operating budget projects student enrollment to land at 65,936 students and assumes a combined tax rate of $1.288 per $100 property tax valuation, an estimated decrease of more than two cents from 2020, the district said in a press release.
According to the district’s budget document, enrollment growth and available revenue prove to be the most critical factors influencing annual budget decisions.
“Enrollment growth drives the number of schools to be opened, the number of staff to be hired, the amount of money to be added to existing programs, and the potential need for new programs or supports,” the budget states. “Available revenue is influenced by enrollment, the economy, our ability to levy property taxes, and the will of the Texas Legislature.”
In addition, the document states, projection enrollment is also one of the most significant challenges the district faces for both budgeting and school building needs.
Moving into the 2020-21 school year, FISD chose more conservative enrollment growth predictions in the midst of a global pandemic, and the actual numbers fell even lower: FISD gained 800 students overall but was about 1,300 below projections as of October 2020.
According to the budget document, that most likely is due to enrollment numbers for pre-kindergarten through second grades, a phenomenon that FISD said other districts have experienced, too.
“Many other districts across the state also experienced reduced growth or declining enrollment concentrated at the younger grade levels, which leads us to believe many parents of younger children chose to home school through the pandemic rather than enroll their students in public schools.”
Looking ahead, FISD has said projecting growth for the next school year is just as challenging: it has taken another conservative approach to enrollment growth projections for the upcoming school year in the face of the unclear impacts of pandemic recovery, including the timing of vaccine distribution and the availability of other learning platforms.
The district’s demographers are expecting up to 80% of the expected 1,300 students that didn’t enroll up this year to return during the 2021-22 year, the budget states. Overall, the budget expects 2,403 new students will have enrolled between October 2020 and October 2021.
Over time, however, FISD expects that the pandemic impact on enrollment will diminish by 2022-23, at which point the district has said it will return to less conservative estimates. Projections show the district expects to surpass 70,000 students by the 2024-25 school year compared to the roughly 64,000 reported this year.
The budget approved in June included adding 207 new staff members, the majority of which will go to Emerson High School, which is slated to open in August.
Frisco ISD said in a press release that the remainder of those staff members will serve in other capacities including in part to address class size across the district.