Only one point kept Stephenville ISD from receiving the highest possible score on the annual Schools FIRST (Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas).
Still, the district received a superior achievement rating by tallying 84 of 85 possible points.
A letter delivered to the district from the Texas Education Agency (TEA), explained that the rating was based on an analysis of staff and student data reported for the 2007-08 school year as well as budgetary and actual financial data for the 2008 fiscal year.
The 24 question report showed that SISD scored one point below the state’s expected result on question 10, which asked if debt related expenditures were less than $250 per student. The indicator shows the legislature’s intent for school districts to spend money on education by limiting the amount of money schools are allowed to spend on debt. Fast growing schools are allowed to exceed the cap.
Tracy Ray, assistant superintendent for business and finance, explained that SISD missed the mark by one point because there has to be either a seven-percent student growth over a five year period, or property taxes collected per penny effort greater than $200,000 - factors the district can’t control.
Ray said she is proud of the superior rating, which SISD has maintained for the past several years.
“We try to follow all the rules and do things the right way and in a timely manner,” Ray said.
According to TEA, The Texas Administrative Code states that the purpose of the financial accountability rating system is to ensure that school districts will be held accountable for the quality of their financial management practices and achieve improved performance in the management of their financial resources. The system is designed to encourage Texas public schools to manage their financial resources better in order to provide the maximum allocation possible for direct instructional purposes. The system will also disclose the quality of local management and decision-making processes that impact the allocation of financial resources in Texas public schools. An evaluation of the long-term effectiveness of the system should disclose a measurable improvement in the quality of Texas public schools’ financial decision-making processes.