CCISD Receives Highest Rating for Fiscal Smarts
Posted on 08/30/2016
The Clear Creek Independent School is one of only 44 public school districts and charters in Texas to receive the highest rating of five stars by the Texas Smart Schools organization, a non-profit organization founded by former Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Susan Combs and Texas A&M researchers. The organization compares district spending against student performance for the more than 1,029 public school districts and 250 charters in Texas.
“Public education is one of the largest items in the state budget, so Texans need to know where their dollars are getting the highest return in terms of student performance,” said Combs, a longtime transparency advocate. “With this platform, parents can find out which schools are beating expectations and educators can find peers whose success makes them worth emulating. It’s truly an initiative that lends itself to the common good.” The Texas Smart Schools initiative replaces the state-led Financial Allocation Study for Texas.
The high rating comes at a time when the CCISD Board of Trustees approved the 2016-2017 operating budget of $325,820,668 to serve the educational needs of more than 41,600 students. “This budget is a reflection of the funding priorities of this community,” said Greg Smith, Superintendent of Schools. “We spent months listening and learning from teachers, parents and business leaders as to what they see as our needs and gaps in the area of funding. With their input and the support of our school board, we continue to put more than 87% of our entire budget towards our human capital, our teachers and staff.”
The budget, which was approved unanimously at the August 29 general school board meeting, includes a baseline raise of three percent for all employees, a seven to eight percent raise for teachers who have reached five-year increment milestones, and a four to seven percent raise to boost the salaries of bus drivers. Additionally, the school district added 20 general education teachers, more than eight special education teachers and support staff, and three additional teaching units to reduce class sizes. In concert with what the community values, the school district also increased stipends for Fine Arts and other stipends that were below competitive levels.
The school district will achieve these fiscal goals without a tax rate increase to local taxpayers and at a time when the State’s portion for CCISD decreased by $8.72 million. “The way public schools are funded continues to be a confusing puzzle for our local taxpayers and even our legislators to piece together,” said Paul McLarty, Deputy Superintendent of Business and Support Services. “When local property values go up, as they have in our area, Texas reduces its share of educating children in your school district. Essentially, any local revenue from property value growth does not give CCISD a windfall when it comes to our day-to-day operations, paying salaries, and keeping the lights on.”