By Mary Alys Cherry
Clear Creek ISD Superintendent Greg Smith couldn’t help but smile as he delivered the 2014 State of the District Address at the start of the new year. He had so much good news to share with teachers and parents.
“Clear Creek ISD and every campus have far exceeded state standards under the new Texas accountability system. While the state no longer ranks schools as exemplary, recognized, or acceptable, all CCISD schools were rated well above the new ‘met standard’ by the state,” he pointed out in his video address, adding, “High school completion rates are among the best in the state and our students, like young Patrick Pan, continue to outperform their peers on the ACT and SAT tests across the nation. At the mere age of 15, Patrick will graduate Clear Lake High School in June with a perfect SAT score and . . . attend Harvard in the fall.
“CCISD is also home to a record number of 43 national merit semi-finalists.”
Admitting that he is not a big fan of ratings, Dr. Smith was quick to add that “these are strong indicators that we have the right team on board, a dedicated community and some absolutely talented students who shine in and outside the classroom every day in their own special way.
“What our local community thinks of us is what matters most. It is why hundreds of families move to our area every year. CCISD continues to grow in enrollment. This school year we broke the 40,000 mark for student enrollment.
“Based on a recent demographic report, CCISD is projected to top 41,000 students by 2016. Based on home construction and best projections, we will be at ‘build-out’ in 2023 with more than 43,600 students. This data will help us determine when and if we will need to adjust school boundaries in the future. At this time, we do not see a need to adjust school boundaries for the next two years.”
Smith also devoted part of his address to update the community on the recent bond issue, including the distribution of approximately 1,100 Dell Latitude 10 tablets to each of the five high schools in January; selection of a naming committee for the new stadium; and the expected savings to the taxpayers after the school board reworked the $367 million bond financing plan, which, he said may save the taxpayers upwards of $50 million or two cents less on the tax rate.
“To put this in perspective, when voters went to the polls in May, they considered a 13 cent increase on their property taxes to fund the $367 million bond. The reworked bond financing plan includes approximately $145 million in adjustable rate bonds with a yield of approximately 1.30 percent and $46 million in fixed rate bonds with a yield of approximately 3.41 percent versus the original full amount at a fixed rate of 4.70 percent.
“Under the new financing plan, we project the tax rate increase will be 11 cents versus 13 cents. CCISD is consistently watching the interest market and refinances debt at lower rates no different than people do on their own homes. Over the last ten years, these efforts have led to almost $36 million in interest savings for taxpayers.”