The Clear Creek ISD board of trustees approved the district’s 2020-21 budget, which is projected to be $9.2 million higher than the budget in 2019-20, at its regular meeting Aug. 24.

More than 60% of the approved increase will be invested in direct classroom instruction, and nearly 90% of the total budget is for employee staffing and benefits, district officials said at the meeting. In all, 51 full-time positions were added to the budget for 2020-21. The total general operating fund is $370.5 million.

The district has two separate pandemic response budgets: the 2019-20 closure budget of $800,000 and the 2020-21 reopen budget estimated at $10.9 million. The district expects to generate an additional $9.2 million in revenue during the 2020-21 school year to offset the budget increase.

Although the budget passed, trustee Scott Bowen noted that, given the financial challenges of the pandemic, the district must be proactive in cutting costs wherever possible so as to not deplete rainy day funds.

“As we develop our goals for the next year and going forward, I would like for us to be really aggressive about making sure we balance the budget every year,” he said. “This won't be our last rainy day, and I don't want to get to the point where we have to sweat every disaster.”

State program revenue is expected to decrease by more than $2 million during the 2020-21 school year, officials said at the meeting. However, the Texas Education Agency is expected to reimburse the district for $1.8 million worth of technology, officials said.

The district is receiving considerably less federal revenue than it did during the previous fiscal year: CCISD received nearly $9.8 million in federal funds during fiscal year 2018-19 but will receive $6.75 million during FY 2019-20 and $6.96 million during FY 2020-21.

The budget’s expected outflow is around $8.7 million, said Paul McLarty, deputy superintendent of business and support services, during the meeting. No tax rate was approved Aug. 24, but it will come before the board for approval in September. The proposed tax rate will decrease $0.0441, from $1.31 to $1.2659.

Other business:

  • At the beginning of the meeting, Superintendent Greg Smith said the district is still on track to welcome its first group of brick-and-mortar students back to campus Aug. 31 despite the potential effects of Hurricane Laura. The football season schedule has changed to accommodate having all games at Challenger Columbia Stadium where spectators can properly social distance, he said, and the season now runs Sept. 24-Dec. 4.

  • The board ratified the emergency purchase of $104,500 worth of wireless hot spots during its Aug. 24 meeting. Texas will allocate $200 million in CARES Act funding to the Texas Education Agency for the purchase of e-learning devices and home internet solutions to enable remote learning during the pandemic for students who lack connectivity. Those funds will be allocated through 50% matching for the purchase of hot spots with data plans; the total order cost is $209,000.

  • National education consulting firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates was awarded a $50,000 contract to select superintendent candidates after board approval at the meeting. Each trustee reviewed and independently scored the various firms examined, and this one was a clear standout, board President Laura DuPont said during the meeting. This firm’s ability to conduct national searches will help foster exploration of nontraditional candidates, which was agreed upon as a goal by trustees when they met virtually in late July to discuss the process.