Message from Superintendent: CISD Budget Deficit Update

Dear CISD Family, 

As I shared in my Informed column last week, CISD is embarking on a two-year process to reduce our more than $7 million deficit level. Today, I want to share our 2021-2022 Coppell ISD Budget Hub website with you at www.coppellisd.com/budgethub. This site contains details on our budget process, a frequently asked questions document and more information. 

We are in the very early stages of the budget reduction process. One of the first steps in this process was our Budget Workshop on December 7. During that workshop, several ideas to reduce the budget deficit and generate additional revenue were shared with our Board of Trustees. These suggestions were possible solutions to address our deficit. None of these proposals are final, and no decisions have yet been made. 

We are analyzing all of our programs for efficiency and ways to reduce our operating costs. I assure you that we are committed to transparency throughout this process, and we strive to provide our taxpayers with clear and relevant financial information. There will be several opportunities in the near future for input on our budget process, including surveys, virtual forums and more, so that our employees, parents and guardians, students and the community can share their feedback with us. As always, you can email input@coppellisd.com with your feedback. 

While our budget and the budget deficit will be discussed at forthcoming monthly Board Meetings and specific Budget Workshops in the next few months, our Board of Trustees will not vote to adopt the final budget for the 2021-2022 school year until Monday, August 23, 2021.  

One of the most frequent questions I have received is how did we get here? We all have or will encounter circumstances in our lives when we have financial needs that must be met, and we do not have the funds available to cover them at that time. This is what occurred at CISD. So we must use our savings, or in the instance of CISD our fund balance, to cover these needs. 

Previous CISD budgets with deficits have been around $2 to $3 million, which typically is made up over the year due to not having 100 percent full-time employment at all times and departments not spending all of their allocated budgets.  However, we must recognize that we cannot continue to spend more than our revenue and cannot continue to use our fund balance to cover these costs, so reductions in spending must be made at some point.  For CISD, that point begins now.  

As I shared last week, there is a combination of factors, including several outside the district’s control, which have contributed to the current budget deficit. These include:

  • Declining growth of revenue due to House Bill 3, which was passed by the Texas Legislature in 2019.
  • Increased compensation for teachers and veteran teachers, which is also a requirement of House Bill  3.
  • Implementation of the required full-day Pre-K with only 50% funding from the state, also a requirement of HB 3. 
  • The opening of CHS9 and Canyon Ranch Elementary and the teachers and staff required for these new campuses. 
  • Slowing growth of student enrollment and projected student enrollment, some of which is because of COVID-19. 
  • Growth of Special Education enrollment and expenditures. 
  • COVID-19 expenses, including personal protection equipment, social distancing supplies and additional safety features not provided by the state. 
  • Increased safety costs with the City of Coppell no longer funding School Resource Officers at 100% with funding now at 50%.  The City of Coppell also only pays for only 50% of the costs of our Crossing Guards. CISD funds 100% of the costs of School Resource Deputies for our schools outside of the City of Coppell. 

As a reminder, CISD has two sources of revenue —  Maintenance and Operations used for the daily operations of the district, and Debt Services (Interest and Sinking) used to pay for the district’s voter-approved bonds, which includes technology and facilities. Our deficit is in the Maintenance and Operations portion of our budget, of which 81% goes to salaries. We cannot use the Debt Services (Interest and Sinking) funds to cover Maintenance and Operations. 

This is a tough process for our district. We don’t know what the 2021 Legislative Session will bring in terms of our state funding. What we do know is that we at CISD must take the steps necessary to balance our budget now, so we can ensure that we have a healthy fund balance to meet our needs or possibly deal with potential upcoming state funding shortfalls. 

I recognize the timing for all of these discussions is terrible. I wish we didn’t have to deal with this problem right now, especially in light of how COVID-19 is affecting us all. I do believe, like all the challenges we have faced before and may face in the future, that CISD will come through this better and stronger, because we will do what we always do — come together to tackle this issue as a CISD family. 

Thank you for your support throughout this challenging process. 

Sincerely, 
Dr. Brad Hunt