Hoffman: School layoffs in Crosby raise questions of incompetence

By Robert Hoffman, guest columnist

On September 19, 2018, Crosby Independent School District announced it had a $5.5 million fund shortage and will begin job layoffs and elimination. The school board announced that 129 employees would no longer work for the district. To date, 34 have resigned or retired from it.

Superintendent Scott Davis said in other news reports that drastic spending cuts and layoffs mid-year had to occur to keep the district financially solvent. The fund shortage occurred owing to previous construction projects. Davis hopes trustees will approve a forensic audit to determine how the district depleted its emergency reserve funds and general fund dollars, spending more than it collected.

Recommending a forensic audit reveals poor administration of school finances. Crosby ISD’s top financial officers and accountants should know exactly how much revenue it spends and how much it receives from all of its funding sources. Local residents should demand answers about why mid-year a financial shortage occurred requiring this drastic action, and how the school board could have prevented it.

School officials claim that three issues created the problem:  previous construction expenses, shoddy revenue estimates and personnel costs. Perhaps Scott Davis needs to explain what he means by “shoddy” revenue estimates. Affirming a dictionary definition, shoddy means “disreputable” revenue estimates.

What incapable and unqualified individuals made these shoddy revenue estimates?

Superintendent Scott Davis recently learned that the school board did not see or approve three construction change orders. Furthermore, the district overstated its school year budget by $5.3 million. In industry, professional people quickly lose their jobs for similar gross incompetence.

Requesting a special audit shows that “shoddy” management of Crosby Independent School District produced this fiscal crisis. The school board not approving or even seeing three construction change orders appalls every responsible resident of this fine community. Unlike other school districts that exercise strong finance, this problem should have never reached this point of critical calamity.

Yet, all of these expenses should have cost controls, and an astute, accountable school administration would not allow their finances to produce a $5.5 million deficit.

Moreover, what about the teachers and support personnel who face layoffs during the mid-year? Crosby ISD should know they have families and expenses like all working people. Nevertheless, they discard them owing to their own bad financial management.

Crosby ISD Board President Carla Mills Windfont, who was first elected in 2002, said you don’t know what you don’t know. You’re limited to what you can do, and you’re limited based on the information you’re given. People can assume a lot of things.

We all know what happens when you assume.

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