By Mary Alys Cherry
The state of the Clear Creek School District is good, but it could use a little help, Superintendent Greg Smith says.
In fact, it has experienced growth in enrollment, despite the somewhat slow economy, he said as delivered his State of the District address.
But with $17.5 million in state funding cuts by the Texas Legislature, it hasn’t been easy. “We have eliminated 246 positions through attrition, and our classroom sizes are larger than they have been in years with the district applying for more than 100 waivers on classroom sizes in grades K though 4.”
Library staffs have been cut and the district has moved to an every other night cleaning of the schools to save money — leading to CCISD and several hundred other school districts suing the state to live up to its constitutional obligation to fund education in Texas.
Besides those cuts, to offset the loss of funds, CCISD has also initiated a fee for extracurricular activities, begun cutting off the lights and air conditioning as soon as school is out and reducing overtime pay. Teachers and staff have not had a pay increase in two years, although the school board recently approved a one-time supplement.
Yet, Dr. Smith, who was named 2012 Texas Superintendent of the Year, said, “we are committed to providing all students a world-class education” — making them not only college-ready but workforce ready.
This extends beyond the quality of teachers and staff to walls, roofs and technology in the schools, he explained.
“The Board of Trustees has established a citizens committee to prioritize our needs and, if necessary, we will come to the voters to ask for their approval for a bond in May,” he told the crowd.
Possible projects they’ll review include are:
• The rebuilding of Clear Lake High School, built in 1972;
• The rebuilding of McWhirter Elementary, built in 1957;
• A technology plan that will offer all classrooms access and develop a funding mechanism to meet the needs to teach in the digital age.
“There’s also a movement to get our students a second stadium. We’ve grown from three to five high schools,” presenting problems juggling five varsity football games in one stadium, he explained, with many having to play on Thursday, a school night.
Smith noted that “CCISD spans 103 square miles, two counties, takes in 13 municipalities, has 44 campuses, 5,000 employees and serves more than 39,600 students.”
Turning to other subjects, he noted that:
• Clear Creek ISD has been selected to participate in what is called the High Performance Schools Consortium – a select group of 23 school districts that will work with the Texas Education Agency and the Legislature “to design new learning standards and most important, a meaningful assessment system. Currently 20 percent of the school year is spent on testing,” he said.
• 98 percent of the Class of 2012 are enrolled in college or have joined either the workforce or the military.
• CCISD boasts one of the most engaging career and technical education programs in Texas. Whether students are interested in nursing, culinary arts, architecture or construction, they have the opportunity to earn industry standard certifications often reserved for college. Others are introduced to engineering, automotive and other workforce principles.