Important message about CCSD budget challenges
June 16, 2020
Dear Cherry Creek Schools Families,
I want to share important information with you about a major challenge we are facing right now as a school district.
The state of Colorado is looking to cut $3.4 billion from its budget. That will result in unprecedented catastrophic cuts to K-12 education. In the next year, the Cherry Creek School District must confront a budget deficit of more than $60 million dollars, due in large part to inadequate funding from the state of Colorado as well as costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
I want to be clear and transparent with our community. A $60 million budget deficit will require more sacrifice and more cuts than we saw with the Great Recession and it is a threat to our ability to deliver on our promise of excellence for every student, every day.
Over the past year, I have led conversations with parent groups, our Budget Task Force and my Council of Chairs about how we can maintain excellence for our 55,000 students even as we continue to be underfunded by the state of Colorado by hundreds of millions of dollars. Our budget challenges have been compounded by rising costs and a decline in enrollment looming in the near future.
My budget task force made a series of recommendations to the Board of Education about how we can continue to fund excellence by cutting costs, finding new sources of revenue and asking our community to approve a bond and budget election in 2020.
This was before the pandemic struck, before life as we know it changed. Almost overnight, our budget situation has become more dire.
When I think about the need to make $60 million in cuts, my head and my heart go straight to one place – our kids. So I want to talk candidly about the impact that these cuts will have on our community.
A worst-case scenario catastrophic budget cut such as the one the state is considering would result in a reduction of teachers and staff. Class sizes would be increased and programs will be eliminated or drastically cut. The Cherry Creek School District will not resemble the district we have known for 70 years.
In addition to a salary freeze for all staff that takes effect July 1 of this year, all Cherry Creek School District employees will have to take furlough days throughout this year and possibly see a reduction in salary in the future.
As we consider these extremely difficult cost-cutting measures, we also must consider an ask of our community that is not easy to make during a time of crisis. We will consider asking our Board of Education to call for an election this fall that could help stave off some of the worst impacts that our budget deficit could have on our schools.
I don’t say these things to cause panic in our community, but to be transparent and to begin a conversation as a community about how we can come together to save our schools and to maintain Cherry Creek excellence.
I want your voices to be a part of this conversation. In addition to the hundreds of people who have contributed feedback through parent engagement committees and community task forces, I will ask for your participation in the coming weeks in a survey about the priorities on which we must focus as a school district.
You can also read more about our current budget situation on the Planning Forward Budget page on our website.
While our budget situation is dire, I continue to draw hope and inspiration by the commitment this community shows to our students and families. You have risen to the challenge during this pandemic and helped your neighbors and your community. I know we will rise together to ensure our students get the education they deserve and the future they envision.
Stay tuned for more information about our budget and ways you can get involved. I hope you are enjoying a safe and restful summer so far and I look forward to continuing this conversation.
Scott A. Siegfried, Ph.D.