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State gives EPISD highest financial rating

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(EL PASO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT -- Oct. 20, 2021) — EPISD once again earned the highest rating available for its financial practices and continues to show an elevated commitment to cost savings and effective budgeting.

The District on Tuesday announced that it received a rating of Superior Achievement on the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) for the 2020 fiscal year. This is the 18th year the District has earned the highest rating given by the state to school districts.

The Texas Education Agency rates school districts based on 20 financial indicators designed to gauge sound fiscal practices and budgetary responsibilities to the taxpayers and community members.

New this year is the introduction of five Critical Indicators — measures deemed so important that failure to meet requirements would automatically result in a failing rating for the school district. EPISD successfully met all five Critical Indicators, which are:

  • Timely submission of the annual financial report (AFR) and data to the TEA.
  • Achieving an unmodified opinion in the AFR on the financial statements as a whole.
  • Compliance with the payment terms of all debt agreements for the fiscal year.
  • Timely payments to the Teachers Retirement System, Texas Workforce Commission, IRS and other agencies.
  • Having an unrestricted net position balance greater than zero in the activities column of the Statement of Net Position. 

EPISD also successfully met the other 15 indicators outlined by the FIRST requirements. Those are:

  • Keeping the average change in fund balance over three years at less than 25 percent decrease.
  • Having sufficient cash on hand and current investments in the general fund to cover operating expenditures.
  • Having sufficient current assets to current liabilities ratio to cover short-term debt.
  • Having general fund revenues equal or exceed expenditures.
  • Averaging less than 10 percent variance when comparing budgeted revenues to actual revenues for the last three fiscal years.
  • Having a ratio of long-term liabilities to total assets be sufficient to support long-term solvency.
  • Having debt per $100 valuation ratio sufficient to support future debt repayments.
  • Having an administrative cost ratio equal to or less than the threshold ratio.
  • Having a decline in student to staff ratio over three years not surpass 15 percent.
  • Having average daily attendance within the allotted range of the biennial pupil projections submitted to the TEA.
  • Not having a variance of more than 3 percent between the reported PEIMS data and the AFR result.
  • A report from the independent auditor that the AFR was free of any material weaknesses in internal controls over financial reporting and compliance for local, state or federal funds.
  • A report from the independent auditor that the AFR was free of any instances of material noncompliance for grants contracts and laws related to local state or federal funds.
  • Posting all required financial information on the District’s website.
  • Discussion by the school board of the District’s property values within 120 days before the adoption of the budget. 

Overall, EPISD earned a score of 96 out of 100. 

“The state continues to strengthen the requirements for Districts to demonstrate fiscal responsibility, and EPISD keeps showing that it is committed to accountability and transparency,” said Maria Pineda, EPISD’s executive director of financial services.

To view the full presentation on the FIRST Rating, click here

To view the FIRST Rating disclosures document, click here

Story by Gustavo Reveles