• How the State's Budget Crisis Could Affect CISD

    According to Superintendent Dr. Jeff Turner, "There is just no way to predict with any certainty what the final budget numbers will be coming out of Austin at the end of this legislative session. You can't pick up a paper, listen to talk radio, or watch television without hearing horribly depressing news about school district reactions to the state's preliminary budget, while every day debates about cuts rage on in the state capitol."

    Preliminary House and Senate budgets have cut $10 billion to $12 billion from the state's investment in the education of the 4.6 million children…the future of Texas…equal to a 15 percent average reduction per year. Should this number be cut in half, it would still mean about $500 less per student for each of the next two school years. The magnitude of the funding shortfall is not only discouraging, it's devastating.

    Coppell ISD is not immune from the effects of the state's resistance to meeting the needs of its students and, based on the state budgets under consideration, CISD's funding would face cuts of $10 million - $12 million per year under the current plan. If the state utilizes its “rainy day fund,” Coppell ISD is anticipating somewhere between a $5-6 million deficit budget for next year and will use its own fund balance (savings) to make up the difference. The district's annual operating budget is approximately $102 million, so the potential impact is disheartening especially when you consider that $1 million equates to about 18 teachers.

    Fortunately for Coppell ISD, the district has been predicting this day would come and preparing for it for the past three years. Staff and parents in the community can probably name cuts that have affected the way a campus operates, from staffing reductions (resulting in increased class sizes) to reductions in available materials. Last year, for the first time in the history of the school district, CISD asked the state for elementary classroom size waivers and has done so again this year. Every department has felt the cuts including administration, maintenance, and custodial. During the 2010-11 school year, the district went to the community and showed facts about the looming financial challenge. The community responded by passing a 13 cent Tax Rate Election (TRE). The combination of district cuts and the support of the community has positioned CISD to be able to weather all but the most draconian of the financial scenarios coming out of Austin for at least the first year of this biennium.

    In a Board of Trustees special session held February 21, it was determined that Coppell ISD would not make any drastic employee cuts for the 2011-12 school year. The district will continue to look for ways to reduce costs in every area of its operation while maintaining the outstanding programs and services that CISD provides for its students.

    During the 2011-12 school year, CISD will be working diligently to trim costs even further as it will be impossible to continue to spend that much money from the fund balance each year and remain solvent.

    More information regarding decisions of the legislature will be forthcoming as the session continues to unfold. Visit The Texas Tribune (launched a great tool…see Jan. 21 issue of Supt's. Scoop) to track the legislation coming out of the House and Senate and sort it by legislator, bill number, topic, etc.