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Budget tight at Crosby ISD

By LEWIS SPEARMAN

CROSBY – The Texas legislature won’t be leveling any new taxes to handle the shortfall of state funding for schools, instead, that burden is being shifted to property poor districts like our own.

The Board of Education of Crosby ISD met Monday, July 21 and decided on a balanced budget for this next school year.

The Board cut about $2.3 million dollars out of the operations budget and discarded12 positions. In spite of the funding shortfall, the board decided to make up about $500 per employee in insurance benefits. That is being given as an employee raise, seen as important to lower salaried personnel.

According to Superintendent Don Hendrix, usually Crosby ISD hires about 34 new teachers a year, this year there will be only about 10 new teachers. Also, there are not a lot of teachers moving around to new locations, all school districts throughout Texas are reflecting a statewide recession. At teacher’s fair, where teachers meet with potential employers to seek job opportunities there are usually about 300 to 350 teachers seeking relocation, this year the numbers exceeded 1200.

The Board decided rather than layoff personnel, positions will be shifted, reassigned to new jobs. Teachers that quit and went to new jobs will makeup the number of lost positions at Crosby ISD.

Barbara Barrett, formerly Principal of Drew Intermediate School has been reassigned. According to Hendrix, she is being replaced by Mary Jenkins. Hendrix expressed his full confidence in Ms. Jenkins. The Crosby ISD Board checked with the attorney for Texas School Boards before making the move.

When questioned as to why the Board had made the move, Hendrix stated, “There were legal problems.”

Along with budget shortfalls, changes in personnel can add unexpected problems. Most of Crosby ISD’s employees have their pay direct deposited into their bank accounts. That transfer of funds usually occurs close to the middle of the month. But instead of deposits being made on July 14, they weren’t made until July 17. The reason given is that an incorrect Federal income tax code had been entered for employees and the check deposits had to be stopped and a correction made. The usual personnel handling payables had become ill.

According to Hendrix, in solving the problem, banking entities such as Compass Bank and Crosby State Bank cooperated with Crosby ISD in making the adjustment. A letter was sent to employees explaining the error related to the new tax table.

Crosby ISD will have to absorb the expenses of overdraft if asked for reimbursement with proof of overdraft. This is the second time in 17 years that a similar incident has happened.

Hendrix estimates the cost of the error will be “Very little.” but other sources estimated that the error could potentially cost nearly as much as a year’s salary for a new teacher.

While it may seem unlikely that the cost of the error would run that high, one would have to question if the reassignment of personnel could increase the likelihood of errors for the schools. An employee with complete capability in one job might be less competent in another even similar job. It seems the school district is scrambling to stretch the school dollar just like all the other school districts in Texas.