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District Earns State’s Highest Fiscal Accountability Rating for 19th Year

During the Sept. 28 Board of Trustees meeting, district officials announced that Denton ISD received a rating of “A” for “Superior Achievement” under Texas’ School FIRST financial accountability rating system, the district’s 19th time to earn the honor.

The “Superior Achievement” rating is the state’s highest, demonstrating the quality of Denton ISD’s financial management and reporting system. 

School FIRST (Financial Accountability Rating System of Texas) is the 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. It was amended under House Bill 5, 83rd Texas Legislature, Regular Session, in 2013.

The primary goal of School FIRST is to achieve quality performance in the management of school districts’ financial resources, a goal made more significant due to the complexity of accounting associated with the Texas school finance system.

“The fact that we have been very efficient in the use of our funds and the fact we have had a very sufficient fund balance in place has been very reassuring to the board over the past 18 months,” said trustee Jim Alexander. “I’ve always been really grateful for the fiscal management in this district. It’s been a great strength and it’s helped us do a really good job on the academic side which is what we’re all about.”

FIRST ratings are in place to hold districts accountable for the quality of their financial management practices, to provide a maximum allocation for direct instructional purposes, and to evaluate the quality of the district’s financial management decisions. 

There are 20 financial indicators used to calculate FIRST ratings.  Examples of those indicators are sufficient days cash on hand, general fund revenues exceed general fund expenditures, debt service coverage ratio, and administrative cost ratio. 

All school districts and charter schools in the state of Texas are required to report information and financial accountability ratings to parents and taxpayers, although the criteria charter schools must meet is less comprehensive and transparent.

The Texas Education Agency assigns one of four financial accountability ratings to school districts, with the highest being “A” for “Superior Achievement,” followed by “B” for “Above-Standard Achievement,” “C” for “Standard Achievement” and “F” for “Substandard Achievement.” 

For the nineteenth year in a row, Denton ISD continues its financial excellence with a “Superior Achievement” rating for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, scoring positive responses on all 20 of the indicators and an overall score of 98 out of 100.