Strategic Plans and Budget Deficits: The One Conversation CCSD is Not Having

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by Kenneth J. Retzl

This blog is about questions more than answers. While we have heard many educational conversations at the Clark County School District (CCSD) Board of Trustee meetings, most are focused on current operations and not on long-term, strategic choices. To this end, the Guinn Center asks how the District’s current budget deficit will impact its strategic plan.

On February 28th, 2019 CCSD unveiled its five year strategic plan, titled “Focus 2024.” The plan is comprehensive and includes five overarching priorities that can be measured through 107 datapoints, and is expected to be achieved using 198 strategies.

When the plan was unveiled in February, it noted that 32 of the strategies required additional funding – and 22 of these 32 strategies relate to increasing student achievement. Interestingly, when the Board of Trustees asked CCSD’s executive team how much extra money these 32 strategies would require, the executive team stated they were unsure at that time; though they did believe the strategic plan would help focus fundraising efforts to ensure assistance was being targeted to the specific strategies requiring additional funding.

Most recently, CCSD increased its estimated budgeted shortfall, declaring the District now needs approximately $33 – 35 million more for each of the upcoming two school years, 2019-2020 and 2020-2021. CCSD initially eliminated the Dean positions at middle and high schools to remedy this shortfall. However, after substantial outcry from school site leaders and other education stakeholders, the final decision was to reduce the per pupil student funding amount at the same schools.

This blog is not intended to question CCSD’s budgeting processes, or their estimates for funding needs. Still, it is interesting to note that much of the budget deficit discussions have focused on the immediate impact of potential cuts. To this end, the Guinn Center would urge the District revisit the questions raised during the February 28th Board of Trustees meeting and provide updates

  • Does the District have a cost estimate for each of the unfunded strategies in the Focus 2024 plan?
  • How are fundraising efforts progressing for those strategies, especially considering the budget deficit currently faced by the District?
  • Is the district re-prioritizing any Focus 2024 strategies for the 2019-2020 school year due to the budget deficit?

Unfortunately, these are not the types of questions we have been hearing during recent Board of Trustee meetings. The Guinn Center hopes these questions can begin the conversation about what additional resources are currently needed (or what strategic initiatives are being reprioritized) to ensure CCSD is still on target to meet the goals provided in Focus 2024.