School districts receive financial ratings

 

All of the Matagorda County school districts received “A-Superior” ratings from the Texas Education Agency for its final financial accountability ratings except for Bay City ISD, which receives a “C-Meets Standard” rating. 

The TEA said more than 1,200 school districts and charters across the state, with 99 percent of all Texas school districts and charters earning a successful final rating for 2017-2018. 

“We are very pleased with our District’s School FIRST rating,” said Van Vleck ISD Superintendent John R. O’Brien. “This rating shows that our district is making the most of our taxpayers’ dollars. This rating shows  that VVISD’s schools are accountable not only for student learning, but also for achieving these results cost-effectively and efficiently.”

Created by the 77th Texas Legislature in 2001, the School Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) is designed to encourage public schools to better manage their financial resources to provide the maximum allocation possible for direct instructional purposes.

Each school district or open-enrollment charter received one of four possible letter grades — A, B, C or F — and a financial management rating of Superior, Above Standard Achievement, Meets Standard or Substandard Achievement. 

Ninety-nine percent of the districts and charters earned a successful final rating, as measured by the School Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas, a system designed to encourage public schools to better manage financial resources to provide the maximum allocation possible for direct instructional purposes, the TEA said.

The FIRST ratings are calculated using 15 financial indicators, such as administrative cost expenditures; the accuracy of a district or charter’s financial information submitted to TEA; and any financial vulnerabilities or material weaknesses in internal controls as determined by an external auditor. 

Ratings for 2017-2018 are based on annual financial reports provided to TEA by districts and charters for the 2017 fiscal year. The financial accountability system requires TEA to review the audited financial reports from all districts and charters. 

A school district or open-enrollment charter is assigned one of four possible letter grades (A, B, C or F), as well as a coinciding financial management rating (Superior, Above Standard Achievement, Meets Standard or Substandard Achievement).  

There are five critical indicators that result in an automatic F or Substandard Achievement rating should a school district or open-enrollment charter fail in that specific category – regardless of overall score.

In addition, FIRST ratings for charter schools operated by a public institution of higher education (IHE) are being assigned for the first time. Based on seven indicators, IHEs are assigned either a Pass or Fail rating. For 2017-2018, every public institution of higher education operating a charter school (7) received a FIRST rating of Pass.

For IHEs, there are two critical indicators that result in an automatic Fail rating should an IHE fail in that specific category – regardless of the overall score.

All school districts and charters are required to report information and financial accountability ratings to parents and taxpayers. In addition, districts and charters must hold a public discussion or hearing regarding its financial report.

TEA formally notified school districts and charters of their preliminary FIRST rating in August. At that time, any district or charter that wished to appeal its rating had an opportunity to submit a written appeal with supporting evidence.

Forty-one school districts submitted a request for an appeal of their preliminary FIRST rating. After a review of the submitted information, 13 appeals were granted. Additionally, six charters submitted a request for an appeal of their preliminary FIRST rating. After a review of the submitted information, two were granted.

To review the final 2017-2018 FIRST ratings for all districts and charters (plus view final FIRST ratings from previous years), visit the TEA website at http://tea.texas.gov/index4.aspx?id=3864.  

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