By Becky Brewster
The Culberson County-Allamoore ISD Board of Trustees conducted a public hearing to report the School FIRST (Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas) financial accountability rating for the District. According to the TEA website, School FIRST reports public school district financial accountability ratings, as authorized by Senate Bill (SB) 218 of the 77th Legislature in 2001 as follows:
The primary goals of School FIRST are to:
• Efficiently assess the quality of financial management in Texas public schools
• Measure and report the extent to which financial resources in Texas public schools assure the maximum allocation possible for direct instructional purposes
• Implement a rating system that fairly and equitably evaluates the quality of financial management decisions
• Improve the management of school districts’ financial resources
• Increase financial accountability within Texas’ public education system
Districts are rated on various performance metrics (called “indicators”) relating to financial management. (To improve the effectiveness of the rating system, the indicators may change from year to year, and new indicators may be added.) These indicator ratings inform you of how well your district is doing financially, and where the district should focus efforts for improvement. In addition to a rating for each indicator, districts receive an overall “passed” or “failed” rating. Ratings are based on analysis of staff and student data for the school year, and on budgetary and actual financial data for the fiscal year. Two measurement vehicles, the Annual Financial Report (AFR) and the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS), supply School FIRST with most of the measurement data from which the ratings are calculated. (https://tea.state.tx.us/first/Help/schoolfirst.htm from January 2016))
Superintendent Dalia Benavides presented the School FIRST results for the 2015-2016 School Year based on 2014-2015 data, noting that the District achieved a Superior Rating with a passing score of 98 (out of a possible 100). Supt. Benavides noted that the District has improved from the prior year scores. The full report can be accessed (using the CCAISD District Number 55901) at http://tea.texas.gov/Finance_and_Grants/Financial_Accountability/Financial_Integrity_Rating_System_of_Texas_(FIRST)/Financial_Integrity_Rating_System_of_Texas/ . The Trustees enthusiastically approved the CCAISD FIRST 2015-2016 Ratings.
Following the public hearing, the Trustees discussed the A-F Rating System for school districts that will be in effect by January 2018. This system will be based on the four indexes from the TEA Accountability Rating combined with an unknown parameter classified as “Community and School Engagement” which will be worth 10% of the grade. It is estimated that 90% of the schools in the state will receive a grade of C or lower. This January 2018 rating will be a “hypothetical” score to show school districts how they are doing on this rating scale to give them a chance to make plans for the next year when the scores will really count. Supt. Benavides noted that “it’s coming” unless the legislature addresses this issue next year to modify or eliminate the rating system.
The Trustees then approved an interlocal agreement with the Town of Van Horn to allow the robotics class to use the Town’s facility on Bell Street (the old gas company offices/shop) for the construction lab for its program. During the new campus construction project, the existing CCAISD facilities can house classroom instruction, but had no room available for the lab. This agreement will facilitate the continuation of the robotics program during the demolition and construction phase of the new school facility.
In other business, the CCAISD Board members:
• Approved the School Health Advisory County Wellness Policy.
• Approved a tax sale proposals submitted by the Appraisal District for Velia Aguilar.
• Approved seeking bids and proposals for the ERATE Cycle 20 (2017-2018).
• Approved budget amendment.
• Conducted an executive session regarding personnel matters.