Thursday, March 21, 2019
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New-SISD-logoFor the fifth year in a row, the Sharyland Independent School District received an “A” rating in the annual financial accountability report from the Texas Education Agency.

At a presentation last week, the Sharyland Board of Trustees heard from Jaime Ortega-the district’s finance director, of this achievement.

He informed the board this was the fifth straight year the district scored a perfect 100, or a “superior” rating as a result of the state Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas.

“The whole purpose of FIRST is to expand public education accountability system in Texas to financial services,” Ortega explained. “The primary goal is to improve management of school district financial resources to assess a quality of financial management in Texas public schools and evaluate the financial decisions that the district makes and open the report results to the general public.”

This year’s FIRST rating is based on the district’s audited financial information for the 2016-2017 school year, Ortega said. A total of 15 indicators-yes or no questions that determine how well the district facilitated an effective and efficient use of their resources-determine the final rating.

“But next year, ratings will change,” Ortega informed the board. “There will be a lot more indicators on financial variances, debt services and more. We’ll have to keep on top of it.”

According to Ismael Gonzalez, the district’s assistant superintendent for business and finance, the TEA is discussing adding six more indicators for an even more rigorous form of accountability in how school districts manage their finances.

The district would have this change mandated by next spring, Gonzalez said.

“Those indicators won’t be presented until the 2021-2022 school year so we’re still a couple of years from seeing those changes,” Gonzalez said. “But when they come we need to ensure we are in compliance. Years down the road we will be held accountable for those. That’s really what’s need to prepare for.”

The new indicators would see how the district handles their debt obligation and fund balance, Gonzalez said. However, he said that the “prestigious” superior rating that the district received is a sign that the district will be able to handle these changes in the rating system.

“The reputation from Sharyland with the TEA has been outstanding, the goal here is to continue to provide the same outstanding performance every school year,” he said. “We feel confident right now with everything we’re doing as a district where we’ve held this superior rating for the last five years. It’s a very recognizable, good award to have.”