Official Notification of the 2012 Preliminary School FIRST Rating

Official Notification of the 2012 Preliminary School FIRST Rating

The purpose of this letter is to notify you of the availability for review of your school district’s preliminary 2012 School Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) rating based on financial indicators per 19 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §109.1002(f).  A school district’s School FIRST rating is based upon an analysis of financial data for fiscal year 2011 (the fiscal period ended June 30, 2011, or August 31, 2011, depending upon the ending date of the school district’s fiscal year).

School FIRST Rating and Data

Your rating and data that were analyzed by the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA’s) automated process for generating School FIRST ratings are accessible by the district at https://seguin.tea.state.tx.us/apps/logon.asp. Please carefully review your district’s preliminary School FIRST rating and the data supporting the 20 indicators.

Opportunity for Appeal

If the district believes that its rating was based on a data error solely attributable to TEA’s review of the data for any of the 20 indicators, the district may submit a written appeal with supporting evidence to the Division of Financial Audits. The written appeal must be submitted to the following address and received by TEA by July 30, 2012:

Texas Education Agency

Division of Financial Audits

1701 N. Congress Ave.

Austin TX 78701

Any errors made by the district in recording data or submitting data through the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) will not constitute a valid basis for appeal.

Please review 19 TAC §109.1002(i) for the rules regarding the filing of an appeal. Only appeals that would result in a change to a district’s rating will be considered. Final ratings will be issued to school districts after TEA has had an opportunity to properly review any appeals submitted. It is anticipated that the final 2012 School FIRST ratings will be available to school districts on or around September 13, 2012. 

Required Reporting after Receipt of Final School FIRST Rating

On or about September 13, 2012, the final School FIRST ratings will be available. Within two months of the release of the ratings, each school district must announce and hold a public meeting to distribute a financial management report that explains the district’s rating and its performance under each of the 20 indicators for the current and prior year. The first of two required published newspaper notices, to inform taxpayers of the meeting, may not be more than 30 days or less than 14 days prior to the public meeting, in accordance with 19 TAC §109.1005. The public meeting to present the School FIRST rating may be combined with a scheduled regular meeting of the board of trustees.

At the public meeting, the district should review the disclosures that must be included in the financial management report. The district will be required to report on reimbursements to the superintendent and board of trustees members, for the 2010–2011 school year, and either post on the district’s website or supply in the financial management report the current superintendent’s contract.

The district must also provide a summary schedule of the data previously submitted to TEA under the financial solvency provisions of TEC §39.0822. The TEA website http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/rules/tac/chapter109/ch109aa.html) provides the required reporting disclosures, described in 19 TAC §109.1005. Additionally, TEA’s Division of Financial Audits has a template posted on its FIRST page (http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index4.aspx?id=3864) that school districts may use to help facilitate the compilation of this information. The district is encouraged to provide additional information in the report that will be beneficial to taxpayers, especially information explaining special circumstances, if any, that may have affected the district’s performance under one or more of the indicators.

A corrective action plan is to be filed with TEA by each school district that receives a final rating of Substandard Achievement or Suspended—Data Quality.

Accreditation and Special Education Determination Statuses

Please note that, in accordance with the Accreditation Status rules at 19 TAC §97.1055,  TEA will take into consideration a district’s School FIRST rating when assigning an accreditation status.

Additionally, a district’s final School FIRST rating may impact its special education determination status as issued by TEA under the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §300.608(a).

Planned Modifications to School FIRST Rules

Modifications to the School FIRST rules are planned which will affect the ratings in the future. Proposed revisions will be disseminated for public comment through the agency’s established rule adoption process.

For Further Information

If you have questions about your district’s School FIRST rating, please contact me by telephone at (512) 463-9095 or via email at schoolaudits@tea.texas.gov.

Sincerely,

Sonya Etheridge
Director
Division of Financial Audits - Office for Grants and Fiscal Compliance