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Star-Courier News

Crosby ISD declares fiscal emergency

Carla Mills Windfont warns not to forget our principles before the Oct. 8 meeting is declared in order.

CROSBY – The Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution declaring Crosby Independent School District as being in a state of Financial Exigency at Monday’s Special Called Meeting at the Operations Center.

Texas Education Code defines Financial Exigency as a school district where financial resources are insufficient to support the district’s instructional programs or the school district is unable to finance the full compensation of staff for the current or succeeding fiscal year.

Approving the resolution allows the district to proceed with a reduction in personnel that would be necessary to correct budget issues. Included in the resolution were several employment areas that would be impacted by the reduction in force.

JoeAnne Crawford, a former Trustee, defeated in an election when Gerald Blankenship presided, during the Hearing of Citizens was very critical of the board’s decisions.

Superintendent Dr. Scott Davis stated, “Tonight’s board meeting officially marks the beginning of the reduction in force process with the board’s approval of the resolution declaring Financial Exigency and listing of the employment areas to be impacted. Some of you may have heard rumblings that some employees have already been notified of their future with Crosby ISD. Last week we met with 18 employees who would be easily identifiable per tonight’s resolution, as they constitute an employment area with only one or two employees. Because this agenda needed to be posted last Friday to be in compliance with requirements set forth by the Texas Open Meetings Act, we wanted to notify those employees that would be easily identifiable of their employment status with Crosby ISD. It is a difficult process, but it is our earnest desire to give every employee the respect and dignity they deserve. For this reason, I met with these employees ahead of the board meeting. As these conversations begin, many have asked about the process for the reduction in force. There are several legal scenarios that we have applied to finalize staff reduction decisions:

1. Eliminating an entire employment area was possible without having to apply the criteria set in place by Board Policy DFFA (local). In these cases, professional employment areas were affected when duties assigned to those areas could be shifted to remaining personnel Contact: Viviana Killion, Director of Community Relations Phone: 281-328-9200 Email: vkillion@crosbyisd.org Crosby Independent School District 706 Runneburg Road, Crosby, TX 77532 www.crosbyisd.org and would have the least disruptive impact to classroom instruction and district operations. Additionally, the majority of these employment areas consist of no more than one or two employees. These employees will be allowed to remain with the district until December 20th to minimize mid-semester disruptions, whenever possible, but have already been notified of their recommended status with the district. (more…)

Miss Highlands Pageant this Saturday

MISS HIGHLANDS PAGEANT will be OCT. 13 – Above, last year’s winners were Kennah Holloway (Jr. Miss Highlands) and Victoria Gonzalez (Miss Highlands).

The Highlands Horizons invite you to the 61st annual Miss Highlands Pageant & the 26th annual Jr. Miss Highlands Pageant this Saturday, October 13th 2018 at Highlands Junior High auditorium. The Jr. Miss Highlands Pageant begins at 2:00pm and The Miss Highlands Pageant begins at 7:00pm.

This year’s theme is “Bringin’ Back the 80’s”. Both pageants will include an opening number, contestant introductions, casualwear modeling, talent competition, dress modeling and interview question. The MC for the Pageants will be Assistant Chief David Alford from the Baytown Police Department.

Awards presented will include Miss Photogenic, Miss Congeniality, High ticket sales, Talent, 2nd runner up, 1st runner up and the crowning of the 2017 Miss Highlands & Jr. Miss Highlands. Each year, the Horizons present the Jennie Robbins Community Service Award to the Miss Highlands contestant who has proven to be community minded and dedicated her time to serving & helping others. Last year, Victoria Gonzalez was chosen to receive this special honor.

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FM 2100 begins to let in March

CROSBY – The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is planning to begin the reconstruction of FM 2100 from S. Diamondhead to 0.23 miles south of Antelope Drive in March of 2019.

A series of temporary road closures of several intersections are planned and TxDOT says they will notify relevant parties of the closures. These closures are of course said to be related to public safety while construction continues.

TxDOT said the motivation to reconstruct Main Street in Crosby is to improve traffic safety and facilitate mobility with additional lanes, sidewalks and a raised median over the 8 miles to reach Huffman. In total some 107 acres is involved in the reconstruction. The reconstruction to Huffman’s FM 1960 is to take 3.5 years and cost $79.3 Million to build.

A series of public hearings in 2015 found primary concern of commenters was to add a raised median to the FM 2100 roadway, which reduces the number of entrance/exit access points to properties along FM 2100. Business owners along the corridor were worried that the median might make patronage by their customers challenging. The project has not changed in any way in spite of the 97 dissenters.

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Jackie Young wins national award

NEW YORK CITY: Environmentalist Lois Gibbs presents the “Champions for Change” award to Jackie Young, for her work in getting EPA to clean up the San Jacinto River Superfund site.

CHEJ: “Champions for Change”

NEW YORK CITY – At a special awards gala on September 6th in the center of Manhattan, the Center for Health, Environment & Justice gave out three awards for outstanding work to save the environment.

One of these awards was presented to Houston’s Jackie Young, Director of the TxHEA or Texas Health and Environment Alliance.

The award was presented by Lois Gibbs, who is famous for exposing the hazardous conditions at the Love Canal. Also present was actress and film director Patricia Arquette, who is making a movie about New York. The ceremony was called “Champions for Change” and honored ongoing work with communities at risk from environmental harms.

Other recipients of the award were Dr. Beverly Paigen, a community scientist who documented health impacts at Love Canal, and PUSH BUFFALO, or People United for Sustainable Housing, Buffalo, New York. They worked on affordable housing, equitable jobs and ecological sustainability for the West Side of Buffalo.

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Constable Eagleton at Highlands Rotary

Constable Sherman Eagleton presents his command staff at the Highlands Rotary luncheon last week. Each deputy outlined his responsibilities for public safety and crime fighting in the Constable Pct. 3 area.

HIGHLANDS – Constable Eagleton met with the Highlands Rotary club, last week, to present information about his department and public safety concerns in the Highlands area.

Eagleton brought with him seven members of his command staff, to answer questions in their particular area. Included were chief deputy Kirk Bonsal, and Lt. Warden of the Environmental division.

Eagleton is enlarging his department’s capabilities, with federal funds secured after Hurricane Harvey in the amount of $3.5 million dollars. For high water rescues, he has added 10 Hummers, several boats, an airboat, and three deuce high water trucks. He said that during Harvey, his department made 5000 rescues.

He has also added quite a few deputies to his staff. When he took over in 2016, there were 122 officers and there are now 170.

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Win a Turner Chevy at Jamail Classic

David Mendez, Pam Jamail Johnson and Debbie Fannin show the new 2018 Chevy Malibu a lucky golfer could win in the 20th Annual Jared Jamail Golf Classic on Oct. 13 at Stonebridge at Newport. According to Johnson, “We are only a few days away and we are still in need of teams, sponsors and donations.”

The Jared Jamail Scholarship fund still gave their annual four scholarships to Crosby students even after the devastating floods last year. This year registration starts at 7:00 a.m. Tee time is at 8 and lunch and awards are at 1:00 p.m. Contact Pam at 832-592-3974 or write to sign up pamjj99@aol.com.

“Happy Days” Jamboree Oct. 6

Parade Marshal will be last year’s Terry Davis Award winner, Judge Don Coffey.

The 62nd Annual Highlands Jamboree will come to life next Saturday, October 6th.

Townsfolk are looking forward to this annual celebration, after last year’s near “wash-out” from Hurricane Harvey.

Parade chairpersons Jessica Woods and Virginia Woods announced the theme as “Happy Days are Here Again.” The Jamboree is put on as a fundraiser for the Highlands Lynchburg Chamber, and sponsored this year by Woodforest National Bank.

Events will start early Saturday morning with a 5K Fun Run/Walk, starting at the Highlands Community Center. Registration starts at 7am. Sponsored by Houston Methodist San Jacinto Hospital, the co-chairs are Kathy Jaeger and Gary guy.

The Parade starts at 10 am, and follows the traditional route down Main Street, from E. Houston Street to Jones Road. Brenda Moore and Betty Michalsky are in charge of the parade. Judging of floats/units will take place for the following categories: Best of Theme, School Spirit, Non-Commercial, Commercial, Antique/Classic Car, Modified or Race Car.

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Crosby ISD calls for special audit

Constable Sherman Eagleton outside the board meeting explained about hiring of extra security personnel on contract from his or any other department, with help from his Chief Clerk. According to the Constable, while the school district is being charged $90,000 for the new personnel, at about $40,000 in salary it is costing his department about $100,000 for that person to be hired. Eagleton also shared his efforts for extra safety at the schools in his Precinct and that other districts had doubled their hiring of security personnel after the Santa Fe shooting. He explained that Crosby ISD cannot afford to do extra security at this time.

CROSBY – A special meeting of the Crosby ISD Board of Trustees was called last Monday night to consider authorizing the expense of up to $20,000 for an objective, third party audit of district expenses and internal controls.

The CISD Operations Center was less packed than a previous board meeting where everyone learned that there was over $345,000 in a deficit before anything is bought for the 2018-2019 school year. Everyone also learned that the district was trying to see what supplies could be held to a minimum before laying off personnel could begin to be determined. We learned that the district is at 89% of the total expenses for personnel where it should be at 80% for personnel. That in 2016-2017, 100 new positions were filled, and in 2017-2018, 40 new positions were filled. Speculation is that about 117 positions are currently at risk from lack of funding.

Scott Davis, Superintendent for Crosby ISD, recommended approval of an initial financial and controls analysis for no more than $20,000 to give a clue to any criminal mismanagement or faulty processes that might have allowed the shortfall of funding. It would give the board the option to look further into deeper investigation with the legally actionable forensic audit, but at less than six figures of funding, that is not available without extra cuts.

J.R. Humphries, a board member elect, spoke before the meeting, also calling for a $20,000 audit first, but calling that a forensic audit.

Celina Miller and Lupe Garcia are prospective auditors with Whitley Penn, LLP. They described different audit services than those performed by Weaver and Tidwell, LLP, the latter being the auditors preparing 2017-2018 general audit. The general audit looks at the factuality of financial statements, not opining on the financial health of the district. Whitney Penn LLP would then give a better understanding of trends and would find any fraud or misrepresentation of the facts.

This audit would look at board policies and the disposition of internal controls. This audit would be an “iterative process with the board but notable findings would be shared with the Board in open session.” and the auditors would not “run to the D.A.’s office” before consulting the board.

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Foundation holds Havana Nights in palatial setting

Crosby’s school Superintendent Scott Davis prepares to dine on fine hors d’oeuvres before his key note address to the Crosby Education Foundation, a charity that raises money to fund extraordinary classroom classes and learning experiences. The Saturday night gala was held at Southern Lace Estates on Indian Shores Road, a new Wedding and Event Venue “Where Southern Grace Meets Timeless Romance!”

CROSBY – Crosby Education Foundation was found at a new palatial setting last Saturday raising money for extraordinary learning experiences for Crosby ISD students.

The venue was perfect for attendees and a chance to meet with the gracious hostess Megan Schuchart of Southern Lace Estates to explain the capacity of the newly opened venue for weddings and events.

A live auction by the guys from the Auctioneers of the Crosby Fair & Rodeo drew about $31,000 with items including 8 days and seven nights in Aruba, a Drive and Shoot a real WWII Sherman Tank and more exotic experiences including a night at the Crawfish Shack with about 20 guests. There was sponsorship for classes. There was a raffle, wine draw, gift card draw and jewelry drawing that continued until time expired.

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HARRIS COUNTY Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event

Saturday, September 29, 2018. 8 am – 11 am. IT May Community Center, 2100 Wolf Road, Huffman, TX 77336.

WHAT TO BRING?

  • Fertilizers and Other Yard Products
  • Paint and Paint Related Products
  • Household Cleaners
  • Automotive Products (oil/gas)
  • Pool Chemicals
  • Aerosol Cans
  • Fluorescent Bulbs and CFLs
  • Batteries (small to car battery size)
  • Mercury Thermometers
  • Small and BBQ Size Propane

WHAT NOT TO BRING?

Electronics, tires, business or commercial waste, radioactive waste, medical waste, ammunition or explosives, compressed gas cylinders.

PLEASE NOTE: This event is limited by the number of pounds the truck can transport. Harris County Residents will be accepted on a first-come first-served basis.

For more information, please call 281-560-6200. Para Espanol llame 281-560-6232.

Crosby ISD plans to right dire finances

Dr. Scott Davis, Superintendent of Crosby ISD, and Chief Financial Officer, Lesa Jones, present an overview of the District’s current financial status.

CROSBY – Monday’s Trustee meeting included a packed room, four citizen’s comments, extensive discussion of dire finances and a Superintendent’s report of what the state of the finances are, what needs to be done and how the district will get to the point of solvency to avoid being taken over by the State.

Dr. Scott Davis, Superintendent of Crosby ISD, and recently-hired Chief Financial Officer, Lesa Jones, presented an overview of the District’s current financial state.

Davis has been in regular communication with the Texas Education Agency regarding Crosby ISD’s financial state and will continue to provide regular updates to the Commissioner of Education, Mike Morath.

He indicated that no one wants to see Crosby ISD taken over by the State.

“Be careful what you wish for.”

In 2015 and 2016 the Board of Trustees discussed how to get the “highest academic standards possible.” At the last meeting everyone learned from the Accountability Report that Crosby ISD was rated a ‘B’ according to the Domain Scores by the State – neighboring school districts were rated “Met Standard” or “Substandard.” One easy way to get student’s scores up is to hire more teachers. Generally it is held that the lower the teacher to student ratio, the faster students learn. Although, there are certainly studies that indicate otherwise or that it makes no difference.

Monday attendees and trustees learned why we have seen the last hiring of over 200 new teachers in a district with nearly 6000 students. While personnel normally accounts for about 80% of a district’s budget, it has been found that about 89% of Crosby ISD budget goes to personnel.

Superintendent Davis painted a bleak picture of unknown layoffs near Christmas and slashing spending “to the bone and then cutting a little bone.” The budget passed last June is about to undergo revisions and special meetings are ordered to consider the new budget plans and what to do about the spending, mostly on personnel and what to cut elsewhere in the system.

District Staff will partake in a series of meetings in the next week to determine which items are absolutely essential in order to operate each campus and/or department. The goal will be to reduce staff budgets dramatically in order to protect as many positions as possible. Another wish was that growth would offset spending by adding revenue, that happened once but not since.

Thus far 18 full time employee teachers and 13 auxiliary full time employees have been replaced by attrition.

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