In the nearly 18 months since Patricia Lambert was convicted of stealing from Beaumont ISD, the former administrator has paid less than $8,000 of the $500,000 restitution she owes the district, according to federal court documents filed Thursday. Lambert, a former BISD assistant superintendent, was sentenced in June 2016 to more than three years in federal prison for stealing half a million dollars from the Central High School booster club and student activities funds. view article arw

As thousands wait for insurance money to make repairs in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, more than a half-dozen school districts, cities and other government agencies are still awaiting payment from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association on nearly $60 million in claims from Hurricane Ike. view article arw

The New Diana ISD board of trustees will meet Monday to hold public hearings and discuss bond-related items. view article arw

The Texas Association of Business School Officials’ (TASBO) report was presented at last week’s called Greenville Independent School District Board of Trustees meeting, and on Friday, the same report was posted on the district’s website.The report was presented after three months of concern over GISD’s finances, and as district employees and community members listened to or read the report of TASBO’s findings and recommendations, many still had questions about how the district ended up with a $6.4 million deficit after the 2016-17 academic year and already has a $2.7 million overage for the 2017-18 school year. view article arw

The Fort Bend ISD board of trustees addressed the nearly $12 million deficit adopted into the fiscal year 2017-18 budget in June during an October board meeting. FBISD Budget Director Bryan Guinn presented a multistep plan for coming up with solutions to close the budget gap, which stems from legislative inaction, in time for the presentation of the FY 2018-19 budget next summer. view article arw

A  recent report out finds that Texas is one of 12 states that have made the deepest funding cuts to K-through-12 education over the past decade.  That’s according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities which  says Texas has cut general funding per student by 16 percent since the 2007-2008 school year.  Mike Leachman is  the Center’s director of state fiscal research, he says "All 12 of these states are still providing at least 7 percent less formula aid per student in the current school year than in 2008. Four of these states have cut formula funding per student by more than 15 percent - Oklahoma, Texas, Kentucky and Alabama."   view article arw

Spring and Klein ISDs received high marks in the 2016-17 financial accountability ratings released by the Texas Education Agency on Dec. 1. Both districts scored 94 out of 100, earning each a “superior” rating. State legislators created the School Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas in 2001 to encourage school districts to efficiently manage their financial resources in order to maximize students’ education, according to a TEA press release. SISD and KISD are among the 84.8 percent of Texas school districts that received a superior, or A rating. view article arw

A recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities puts Texas on a top-four list not everyone may be thrilled to see the state make:  Entitled “A Punishing Decade for School Funding,” the report shows Texas cut funding for K-12 education by roughly 16 percent per student since the 2007-2008 school year.  This is reportedly second only to Oklahoma’s 28.8 percent at the same rate.

A long-time administrator with a reputation for coming in to save the day didn’t sound a very optimistic after taking the reins of Dallas County Schools on Wednesday.  Alan King’s new job as the bus-service provider’s chief executive officer is to oversee the winding down of the agency voters decided to abolish. But he told the dissolution committee that appointed him that it faces numerous challenges, such as untangling bad business deals, assessing liabilities and trying to figure out exactly what budget shortfalls exist.  “Our current financial situation is pretty bleak,” King said, pointing to a failed business venture by the agency as the main source of money woes.King said DCS has about $146 million in debt, much of it caused by its foray into the stop-arm camera program. DCS officials had hoped to benefit from contracts across the state by partnering with districts to ticket drivers who were recorded illegally passing stopped buses. view article arw

AUSTIN — At just over 18 months old, Jackson Raygor struggled to walk more than a few steps at a time. His body would lag back and forth as his undiagnosed cerebral palsy forced the muscles in his legs to work against him.  Step, fall. Two steps, fall. Sometimes five steps, fall again.  It was 2015 and Joshua Raygor said he and his wife Kyla knew something was wrong. After talking to doctors and moving to Houston for work, they enrolled Jackson in Early Childhood Intervention, a state program providing therapy to children under 3 with disabilities or developmental delays. view article arw

We knew Texas' funding of its schools was lacking, but a new study this week suggests it's even worse than we thought. Texas is spending fewer dollars per student — 16 percent less — than it did in 2008, according to the Washington-based think tank Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. That's the sixth-biggest decline in state spending in the country. view article arw

Dallas ISD Gears Up for Bus Service

December 0108:32 AM
 

The Dallas Independent School District is preparing to hire more than 1,100 Dallas County Schools employees after voters decided this month to close DCS at the end of the current school year. The Nov. 7 referendum came after a year of NBC 5 Investigates reports about safety and financial problems at the school bus agency. view article arw

Texas asks for $90M to delay CHIP end

December 0108:15 AM
 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's administration is asking for $90 million more in federal funding in hopes of delaying sending health insurance cancellation notices to nearly half a million children. The Dallas Morning News reports that Texas will end its Children's Health Insurance Program on Jan. 31 unless it gets such funding. The state would send notices about the program's termination to affected families days before Christmas. view article arw

Since 2008, when the Great Recession led to major funding cuts to education across the country, Texas has lagged behind most states in restoring those dollars, according to a new study.  Per-student state funding in Texas in 2015, the latest education spending data available from the U.S. Census Bureau, was 16 percent lower than in 2008, when adjusted for inflation, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington-based liberal think tank.  That was the sixth-biggest decline in state education spending during that period — behind Arizona, Florida, Alabama, Idaho and Georgia. Nineteen states increased funding between 2008 and 2015 by as much as 96 percent. view article arw

With a higher than anticipated enrollment and an unexpected payment from the state, revenues are running ahead of projections for Decatur ISD early in the fiscal year. In a report to Decatur School Board Monday night, Cindy Tatum, deputy superintendent over finances, said the district’s revenues through October were $1.6 million over the budgeted amount. A big part of the projected increase is due to an increase in enrollment. The district built its budget with an enrollment of 3,255 and refined average daily attendance (ADA) of 3,125. Through two six weeks, the enrollment is 3,350 and an ADA of 3,207. view article arw

Good news on two fronts for the Mission Consolidated Independent School District. On Nov. 14 the Texas Education Agency released its updated accountability reports for 2017. The report shows MCISD “met standard” in all four areas it rates: student achievement, student progress, closing performance gaps and preparing students for post-secondary education. The ratings show the district exceeded target scores in each category but without receiving a distinction designation in any of the four categories. view article arw

With installation costs plummeting, American schools are switching to solar energy at a rapid pace, reducing their electricity bills and freeing up resources to invest in education. There are now 5,489 K-12 schools in the United States that use solar energy, nearly double the total solar capacity that was installed at schools in 2014, according to a major new report by The Solar Foundation, Generation 180, and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). The dramatic growth in solar school adoption has been driven by rapidly declining installation costs. The average price of a solar school installation has dropped 67 percent in the last 10 years, and 19 percent in 2016 alone, this report found. view article arw

Socorro ISD received a perfect score in the Texas Education Agency’s School Financial Integrity Rating System, which ensures Texas public schools are held accountable for the quality of their financial management practices. “Our A-Superior rating is testament to SISD’s commitment to accountability for all,” said Tony Reza, the district’s chief financial officer. “We want to ensure that Team SISD stakeholders know we are fiscally responsible and accountable for the public funds that are entrusted to us.” view article arw

Two things that top the list of citizens when it comes to their local school district are the quality of education and how are their dollars being spent. The Mansfield Independent School District has long been renowned for its quality of education. The same is true of its financial accountability and integrity. The Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) has been around for 15 years. Not so coincidentally, the MISD has received a superior rating, the highest available, from the Texas Education Agency. view article arw

Austin ISD officials will discuss the sale of some of its properties located on prime real estate at trustees' meeting next week. According to a copy of the Nov. 27 Austin ISD board of trustees agenda, the school district appears to be poised to move forward with the property sales. The real estate is described as surplus in the agenda, and district officials have previously voiced plans to sell the holdings. view article arw

For the 15th year in a row, the San Angelo school district has earned a superior rating – the highest ranking – on the School FIRST financial accountability system.  Jeff Bright, assistant superintendent of business support services, made the announcement during SAISD’s regular board meeting Tuesday, Nov. 21.  “We had a perfect score on the rating system this year,” he said. “So we’re very proud of that, and y’all know very well this doesn’t happen by accident. We have a lot of people within our financial services department that make this happen.” view article arw

Governor Greg Abbott has appointed Scott Brister, Melissa Martin, Elvira Reyna, and Todd Williams to the Texas Commission on Public School Finance for terms at the pleasure of the Governor. Additionally, the Governor has named Brister chair of the commission. The commission is charged with developing recommendations for the legislature on public school funding and prepare a report to deliver by the end of 2018 to the governor and legislature of recommendations to improve the public school finance system. view article arw

Sabine ISD gets clean audit

November 1408:25 AM
 

Sabine ISD was one of only five school districts throughout the state to receive an F, or substandard, financial accountability rating this year. It isn't expecting the same rating next year, based on audit information presented to the board Monday, but officials said even that one failed rating would have a financial impact on the district. view article arw

Voters in the Lake Travis school district said yes this week to new bonds, but they have also said yes to a tax ratification election.  District spokesman Marco Alvarado said that allows them to prevent a lot of money from being sent to the state for recapture. view article arw

Although San Antonio leads the nation in economic inequality, many of the issues contributing to the opportunity gap between residents stem from the fundamentals: homes and education. Texas school districts rely heavily on local property taxes to fund facilities, staff salaries and supplies for students. This poses problems because property values and tax revenues vary by neighborhood. Therefore, the flow of funds for arbitrary, "independent" school districts throughout the state differ as well, creating inequity by geography.  view article arw

The Pine Tree ISD board of trustees is scheduled to meet Monday to discuss the district's financial accountability rating and the 2016-17 financial audit. view article arw

Kemp ISD receives highest rating

November 0808:10 AM
 

Kemp ISD received a rating of “A” for “superior achievement” under Texas’ School FIRST financial accountability rating system. The “superior achievement” rating is the state’s highest, demonstrating the quality of Kemp ISD’s financial management and reporting system. This is the 15th year of School FIRST (Financial Accountability Rating System of Texas), a financial accountability system for Texas school districts developed by the Texas Education Agency in response to Senate Bill 875 of the 76th Texas Legislature in 1999 and amendments under House Bill 5 during the 83rd Texas Legislature. view article arw

The Katy Independent School District received a A on its latest state-mandated financial report card. At the Oct. 23 Katy ISD school board meeting, Christopher Smith, the district's financial officer, presented the results of the 2016-17 report from the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas or FIRST, part of the state's education agency. Katy ISD passed with a rating of Superior. "This is being done this month and next month throughout the state of Texas at every (school district,)" Smith said. "Its primary goal is to improve the management of a school district's financial resources." view article arw

Texas most needy and struggling students are the most severely affected when public education funding is shortchanged. And there is usually a price to paid for that. The $5.3 billion reduction in public school funding by the state Legislature between 2011 to 2106 created a funding hole that disproportionally affected low-income and other disadvantaged students, according to the findings of a report recently released by the University of Texas at Austin and the Center for Public Policy Priorities. view article arw

The Lefors Independent School District is being creative to help meet its budget for this year and for the future. Joe Waldron, superintendent for Lefors ISD, tells ABC 7 News the school board recently approved starting an education foundation. “The first job of the education foundation is to raise money,” said Waldron. “It’s never been done before at Lefors. We are using a model from Pampa and Gruver. We also are using the Underwood Law Firm from Amarillo to help develop bylaws and get that process started.” view article arw

Waco Independent School District has cut about half a million dollars in administrative costs since Superintendent A. Marcus Nelson started in June.  The effort is part of the superintendent’s strategy to make the district run more “lean and mean” to tackle an estimated $3 million deficit in this year’s budget and get ahead for planning next year’s budget cycle, Chief Financial Officer Sheryl Davis said. view article arw

The state of Texas this year is scooping up record levels of Plano ISD property taxes, part of a steep uptick in state recapture payments that is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, district officials have said. Of the $573 million PISD will collect in property taxes this year for its day-to-day operations, nearly $155 million will be sent to the state—a record-high recapture payment. Next year’s payment is expected to rise by an additional 32 percent and cost the district more than $200 million. And while the state is adding to its overall education budget through these property tax revenues, some PISD officials are crying foul. Pointing to the state’s declining share of contributions to public education, PISD officials have said recapture payments are making up the difference for a decrease in state funding. view article arw

Government fiscal schedules are inconsistent across Texas as different entities have the ability to choose when they set budgets. The city of Katy and Fort Bend County use an Oct. 1-Sept. 30 fiscal calendar, Harris County uses March 1-Feb. 28 fiscal year, Waller County uses a January-December fiscal calendar and Katy ISD uses September-August fiscal year. Governments and private companies alike will often select fiscal years that support their bottom line, according to the International Monetary Fund.  view article arw

They are called "Empower Texans," but two area superintendents said the political action committee is doing the complete opposite, especially when it comes to statewide public education.  School vouchers were one of the many hot-button issues during the past legislative session, and although the session is over, the conversation continues. "They do want to set up a voucher system, a tax credit system for parents whose kids go to private school," said Robert McLain, Channing ISD Superintendent. "I feel like Empower Texans is attacking public schools in that way."   view article arw

As Houston ISD faces a possible state takeover, a $106 million budget shortfall and millions of dollars in needed repairs from Hurricane Harvey, six of its board’s nine seats are up for election on Nov. 7. Fifteen candidates are vying for school board seats in regular elections, and four are competing in a special election for the District III seat held for 14 years by Trustee Manuel Rodriguez, who died in July. view article arw