Crosby ISD’s cash woes show

CROSBY – Next Monday, August 19, at the school board meeting, Scott Davis, Superintendent of Crosby ISD, is expected to describe financial woes of the district and how the district will repair those woes, according to sources, but for now the district and the Superintendent are remaining silent and not returning phone calls, e-mails, or friendly visits.

Generally, when a Superintendent takes over a district, the first order of duty is to look into the finances of the school district, and for now there is a hiring freeze (excluding the new teachers that were employed last school year) and a hold on new orders, according to the same sources.

As an example of where the funding might have gone, sources say it was not an illegal absconding but using funds up to but not including $50,000 to pay for cost overruns on Crosby’s “The Jungle” Stadium from the General Fund by the previous Superintendent Dr. Keith Moore.

Timing being essential here, the new A-F grading system for schools was just released, with Crosby achieving a B letter grade, with two distinctions at Crosby High School for Post-Secondary Readiness and another for Comparative Academic Growth. The financial rating from Texas Education Agency, was a “C” for ‘met standard’ back when the 2017 bond was decided. TEA ratings go from “A” for superior to “F” for not measuring up.

Crosby ISD was awarded zero out of 10 points on the debt service coverage ratio by the TEA on the last bond. The district brings in $58.3 million in revenue for debt service, the tax rate used to make bond payments, and it now pays $65.4 million. Those poor standings may be due to inaccurate information, and they are under appeal.

Around 2012, the district began planning for the 2013 bond. About that time, the district’s enrollment growth began accelerating. From 2013 to 2016, Crosby ISD’s enrollment growth rate rose from 0.85 percent to 5.49 percent.

The district’s 2013 bond election was for $86.5 million and used to build a new high school and construct athletic structures. The district used more than $10 million from its operating budget, which is set to be reimbursed with the 2017 bond package.

School districts running short of money is not a new experience, especially since 2016 when the largest school districts in Texas filed a lawsuit against their state government, alleging the public school system in Texas is both inadequate and inequitable. That was the same year the TEA initiated the A-F system.

The 2017 Bond was justified with lowering the tax rate because student enrollment increased from 5,199 in 2013 to 6,168 in 2017, and the tax base increased by $0.2 billion in the same time frame. All of this, and lowering the tax rate two cents per valuation, made the bond attractive, and lately the district lowered the tax rate by another cent. Before anyone goes on a spending spree, the increase in tax base does offer more money to the school, and the crowding of homes now also adds the dollar amounts of valuations on property.

Yeah, you are gonna spend more on school taxes.

Sources indicate that it would have been wiser to put some projects on hold rather than take money from the general funds or operating budget to complete them.

August 20 is the last day to file for a school board trustee position. Applications must be filed with Viviana Killion from 8 until 4 p.m. on any day that is not a school holiday or Saturday or Sunday. A joint election with Harris County was ordered by the Board of Trustees on May 14, 2018 for the following positions.

At-Large Position 6 – John Swinney

District 1 – Tanya Eagleton

District 2 – Cathi Hughes

District 3 – John Lindsey

November 6, 2018 is the general election date.