Sulphur Springs Independent School District, along with all six county schools and Yantis, were among the 98 percent of Texas schools to earn superior achievement Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas ratings from the state.
Texas Education Agency evaluates schools’ financial health by studying a year’s worth of data, scorings districts based on 20 indicators. The first six questions are strictly yes or no questions, and the rest award a rating from 1 to 5 with five being the best. Those results are tallied and a rating assigned.
The top possible score a district can receive is 70. North Hopkins ISD was the only district in Hopkins County to receive a perfect score of 70. All other districts scored 67 or higher to receive a superior achievement rating. Passing is 52 points, and to earn a superior rating, districts had to achieve a total of at least 64 points.
Cumby, Miller Grove, Saltillo and Sulphur Bluff ISDs each received 69 points, each docked one point either for debt service or tax collection percentages. Como-Pickton and Yantis earned 68 points each and Sulphur Springs ISD received 67 points.
Como-Pickton, Cumby, Sulphur Springs and Yantis’ ratings were each less than 5 on indicator 9 which deals with the amount of debt service per students the district has. Como-Pickton, Miller Grove, Saltillo and Sulphur Bluff received earned fewer than 5 points on indicator 7, which asks whether the district’s three-year average percent of total tax collections (including delinquent taxes) was great than 98 percent.
Schools FIRST ratings are always from the schools numbers from two years before, or “a year behind” as SSISD business manager Sherry McGraw pointed out to trustees when presenting the ratings to them Monday night. In this case, the 2012 FIRST ratings are based on the 2010-2011 district finances. The pass rate tends to vary from year-to-year depending on the rating criteria. The 2011 ratings, for example, required districts to score a 72 out of 80 indicators to achieve 90 percent needed for a superior rating.
One change in the 2012 evaluation from the 2011 TEA evaluation involved interest rates, which rebounded this year, but in the past weren’t great for districts and caused figures to be lower. That economic factor was accounted for in this rating, McGraw noted.
More information about FIRST ratings, including ratings and explanations for each district, can be found on TEA’s website www.tea.state.tx.us, or for this year’s complete listing go to http://tuna.tea.state.tx.us/First/forms/main.aspx.
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