County school districts get top financial marks
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

The annual district financial evaluations made by the state are in, and all seven Hopkins County school districts received top marks on the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas.

The Schools FIRST rating is based on a worksheet containing 21 indicators or questions which utilized staff and student data reported in the 2004-2005 school year, and budgetary and actual financial data for fiscal year 2005 which ended Aug. 31,2005. Sulphur Springs, Cumby, Como-Pickton, Miller Grove, North Hopkins, Saltillo and Sulphur Bluff school districts all earned “superior achievement” rankings, awarded to schools passing at least 19 of the 21 indicators.

Sulphur Springs and North Hopkins were the only Hopkins County schools to received a perfect score for meeting the terms of all 21 questions.

Yantis, Winnsboro, Commerce, Greenville, Mount Vernon, Cooper, Paris, North Lamar, Chism, Pittsburg, Texarkana, Lone Oak, Wolfe City, Caddo Mills, Hawkins, Mineola, Quitman were also among the 959 school districts in Texas to receive overall perfect superior ratings for financial achievement.

Cumby, Como-Pickton, Saltillo, Sulphur Bluff and Miller Grove all had only one negative mark. Each failed to meet the terms of indicator 18 which requires each district to maintain a total fund balance in its general fund of more than 50 percent but less than 150 percent of the “optimum” according to the fund balance and cash flow calculation worksheet completed during the annual financial audit. According to Texas Education Agency, 186 others school districts also were also cited for failing indicator 18.

Campbell passed indicator 18, only to miss indicator 11 which requires the district spend more than 54 percent of its operating expenses for instruction. TEA shows the district falling just shy of the 54 percent goal, with only 53.39 percent going toward instruction. Indicator or test 11 was the one question most frequently failed. Overall, 233 schools or 22.47 percent of the 1,037 districts in the state failed indicator 11.

Mount Pleasant was also ranked superior, with only indicator 17 which determines whether the district met targetedstudent-teacher ratios. Alba-Golden, although superior ranked as well, did have one negative result because the district’s administrative cost ratio was 16.33 percent which is more than the standard 15.61 percent in state law.

Winfield received superior ranking with only one negative indicator, test 7 which compares PEIMS data to like information on the annual financial report.

Both Quinlan and Lindale are among only 22 districts in the state to completely fail the financial evaluation and of 21 to receive the “substandard achievement” rating. (One district’s ranking was suspended due to data quality).

More information about school districts' FIRST ratings can be found online on Texas Education Agency's Web site (www.tea.state.tx.us) by selecting the finance option from the main menu then clicking on "School District Ratings" found under the "School Financial Audits" and "The Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST)" headings.

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