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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.

John Swinney, At Large District representative and Board Vice President, moved that any “wrongdoing found be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, otherwise why spend the $20,000.”

Typically, actions of a legal consequence are not taken against school administrative except in extra ordinary cases where funds or supplies have come up missing, the auditors had explained.

Trustee Randy Condra balked at spending the extra money prior to hearing the general audit report.

Two new meetings were called for one on October 8 and another on October 15 to learn more of audits.

A formal budget amendment will be brought to the board after these processes are completed.

Efforts will take several years to correct staffing and bring payroll costs into line with the typical 80% for personnel of general fund budget.