Due to declining enrollment, a lack of state aid and other factors, Clear Creek ISD is facing multimillion-dollar shortfalls over the next two fiscal years.

The overview: CCISD Chief Financial Officer Alice Benzaia shared a preview of the fiscal year 2023-24 and FY 2024-25 budgets with the board May 22.
  • For the FY 2022-23 budget, the board transferred $9.2 million from the district’s contingency fund to pass a balanced budget.
  • For FY 2023-24, pending no legislative changes, district officials expect $357.34 million in revenue and $374.74 million in expenses, resulting in a $17.41 million shortfall.
  • For FY 2024-25, officials expect $353.6 million in revenue and $385.35 million in expenses, resulting in a $31.75 million shortfall.
The district has a Strategic Budget Sprint Team that is tasked with looking at ways to increase revenues and reduce expenses. The team met in early May.

The team came up with recommendations and tiered them. Superintendent Karen Engle will use the team’s report to provide recommendations to the board.

How we got here: The basic allotment is an amount districts get from the state per student. The last time the basic allotment was increased was in 2019, and it sits at $6,160 per student.

To keep up with inflation, the basic allotment would need to increase to about $7,200 per student, Benzaia said, but legislators are considering an increase of up to $140 for a total of $6,300.

CCISD has seen declining enrollment over the past few years—1,459 students between 2017-18 and 2022-23, which amounts to a 3.5% decrease. Additionally, average daily attendance has decreased from about 95.5% in 2018-19 to 93.4% this school year. Both negatively affect the district’s revenue, Benzaia said.

CCISD also has one of the lowest property tax rates when compared to similar-sized districts in the region, she said. The district’s tax rate is $1.1146 per $100 valuation.

Finally, expenses are continuing to climb with inflation. Last year, the district’s general insurance increased by $1.5 million, and it increased by $900,000 the year before. Fuel, paper and other expenses have also climbed with inflation, Benzaia said.

In their own words: Board members expressed concern with the state of the budget.

“It’s glaring, I think, what not only our district but other districts are facing and how they’re still able to provide the opportunities for our students,” Trustee Jay Cunningham said. “Buckle up. We’re going to have to roll our sleeves up and get to work.”

Trustee Jeffrey Larson said he was troubled by the shortfalls the district is facing.

“Frankly, that terrifies me,” he said, noting the district may have to tax residents more to make up the difference. “This is a monumental task. This is tough. $31 million is a huge hill to climb.”