CROSBY, Texas (FOX 26) - There may be light at the end of the tunnel for the more than 125 Crosby Independent School District employees who were just laid off. How is that possible?
There has been great sadness in Crosby felt by nearly everyone after dozens of workers in the school district were laid off.
"There’s a strong level of pain today in our district," explains Crosby ISD superintendent Scott Davis. "People are hurting." Hurting for good reason. Crosby ISD is losing 129 employees, including 34 who are retiring or resigning and 95 teachers, bus drivers, custodians and other workers who are being let go.
"This is the worst thing I’ve ever had to go through as an administrator," adds Davis, who has only served as superintendent since June. "These people have done nothing wrong.”
Shortly after starting as superintendent, Davis and the new chief financial officer found a flood of financial inaccuracies.
"What we’ve been able to track down is there were cost overruns in the building projects that came about as a result of the 2013 bond program. That used money from our fund balance." That left the district $5.2 million in the hole and without three months of savings as required by the Texas Education Agency.
Davis says another problem with the finances was the district hiring additional staff.
"The growth projections were estimated higher than would support that large number of personnel," describes Davis. "The third component was the overestimation of revenue. So you put those things together and you have somewhat of a perfect storm that puts you living beyond your means.” Although, Davis says the district is continuing to grow.
“We’re already up 175 children from where we were last year and that’s a blessing as well,” says Davis.
Remember the good news? Houston-area school district superintendents are calling, offering jobs to the laid-off Crosby workers. Goose Creek and Spring districts are just a couple of districts to confirm that. Plus, Humble ISD has already hired five of the laid-off Crosby ISD elementary teachers.
"You cannot imagine the outpouring," says Superintendent Davis with a smile. "There’s no one that wants to see our people go without or not be working. This gives me hope that on the other side of this our prayers will be answered.”
Crosby ISD stands to save more than $5 million with all of the job reductions.
“We’ve removed bulbs in the hall so that we still are safe walking up and down the halls but we’re not spending as much on electricity," says Davis. He also says it will be years before the district is financially sound again and he admits no one knows how disabling losing 129 employees, all at once, will be.
“If I threw one pebble into the water, I can see the ripple effect of the one pebble hitting the water," says Davis. "In effect, I’ve thrown 129 pebbles into a lake, but the people inside the school district are linking arms. They’re crying with one another. They’re also praying for one another and supporting one another."
The 72 at-will workers who were laid off will only have a job in Crosby ISD for another two weeks until through Nov. 2. The other 33 will work until Dec. 20.
Crosby ISD is still awaiting findings from auditors who are investigating the financial books. Superintendent Davis says he has great faith this news report may have started as one about layoffs but it will end "the story of Crosby ISD coming together as a community and we’re going to be OK."