Where is CCISD’s IT budget?

For the fiscal year ending August 31, 2018, CCISD had total revenues of approximately $460 million, give or take a few million, according to its Annual Financial Report. We don’t know how much CCISD’s overall information technology (IT) budget is because CCISD does not break this down in its annual financial report. It could literally be anywhere, under any category that CCISD can get away with hiding it. But consider this:

A company with $50 million to $2 billion in revenue typically spends 4.1 percent of its revenue on IT. That works out to $18,860,000 million that CCISD should be spending annually on IT.

Information technology budgets typically cover things like salary for IT employees, hardware like computers and routers, internet and telephone services, software, and maintaining these items (parts, software, an extra power strip, etc.)

The only thing even remotely close to an IT budget line item was in the introduction to the 2018-19 Budget Analysis and Detail. It talks about $3 million in expenditures for a “technology capital plan.” That basically means investments in things like computers and servers, anything you have to buy.

CCISD’s Lack of Transparency in IT

CCISD hasn’t posted the check registers for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. The latest check registers are for 2015-2016. It’s impossible to tell how much we’re spending on IT because it’s not clear. There are big line items for Office Depot, Cengage Learning, Xerox, and some assorted technology or communications providers.

We kept digging. According to the Clear Creek ISD Budget & Finances Detail document, we’re spending over $3 million on “contracted services” (i.e., outside consultants) and “supplies and materials.” What are these supplies and materials? And how much of the IT budget is folded into expenses associated with the individual schools?

Diving deeper, the budget included $7.4 million for data processing services, which sounds an awful lot like IT. And how much of the security services involve IT support?

All right, so how much are we spending on IT department salaries? According to the Budget & Finances document, there are 115 information technology department employees. Of these, 41 are classified as “professional support” (likely meaning paper pushers), six are “support” personnel (likely the ones that answer phones and issue trouble tickets), and 68 “technology support” personnel – likely the ones that actually keep the network running. Total payroll costs are a little over $6 million. That’s about one-third of what the IT budget should be.

There is a very clear lack of transparency regarding spending in CCISD, particularly its IT spending. You can’t actually tell from the budget what’s being spent on IT, because there is absolutely no way a school district with this many schools and this many employees would only be spending $9 million on IT? Either they really are – and not providing some schools with what’s needed to educate students – or they’re hiding their numbers somewhere else.

CCISD still has to spend money on the programs they use, like the It’s Learning platform and Skyward. They likely pay a fee to the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) to use the BoardBook software. What about web hosting? Firewalls? Information security? How are they protecting and encrypting student and employee data? Ensuring the campuses and buildings have the appropriate network support? What do they pay for the Board of Trustees to have their shiny new HP laptops? And stream video from meetings?

Our money is on hiding the expenses somewhere else. Just look at how the district broke out data processing services.

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