Alison Crumbley recalls vividly the scenario she faced upon her arrival on the Pasco County School Board in 2010.
The district saw its revenue streams shrink as the recession hit hard. The board faced the task of cutting millions of dollars in spending, eliminating positions and programs to get there.
It was, Crumbley says, the “perfect storm for a lack of resources.” And the board had little recourse, with the limited revenue compounded by state limits on board authority.
The district now has turned the corner, Crumbley observes, and she wants to be part of the effort to see some new initiatives come to fruition. Those include improving academic opportunities in west Pasco schools and finding money to raise salaries for classroom teachers.
“I see a lot of light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.
So she filed paperwork Friday to seek her third full term representing District 4 in west-central Pasco.
Crumbley, who works for a real estate company owned by her husband, first came to office in a special 2010 election to replace Kathryn Starkey, who resigned to seek a different elected position. She won the general election with 55 percent of the vote, after leading the five-person primary.
Since then, she has won reelection without opposition twice.
Crumbley acknowledged that the district has struggled to make gains over the years, and pointed to the financial downturn as a significant contributing factor. She contended the board has begun digging deeper into issues such as testing and school turnarounds, and is making a concerted effort to press for improvements.
She pointed to her refusal to support the administration’s late 2018 plans to shutter three elementary schools as demonstration of that commitment, stating that the district’s proposals did not meet her expectations.
“I didn’t like the first proposal and sent it back to the to the drawing board,” she said of her decision to join with two colleagues to nix the concept. “I think that was a good thing.”
Crumbley pressed a year later for a workshop to revisit the issues. She said the added year led to a more comprehensive approach that she could back.
Crumbley also has been an active supporter of arts education in the schools, most recently working to bring new programs to Lacoochee Elementary. And she has regularly pressed the district to improve its communication efforts with the public, praising the strides the administration has made to better tell the district’s story and keep families informed.
As chairwoman over the past year, she led the board through heavy pressure to alter its guidelines and procedures for LGBTQ student rights. The board regularly heard from all speakers, extending its public comment time frequently, but also deciding to move the period to the end of the meeting and turn off the video cameras.
So far, no one has filed to challenge Crumbley.
District 2 board member Colleen Beaudoin and superintendent Kurt Browning also will stand for reelection in the fall. Beaudoin has not drawn any challengers yet, while two hopefuls — principal David LaRoche and teacher Cynthia Thompson — have announced their bids to unseat Browning.