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Auditor Praises WFISD for Clean Financial Report

Auditor Praises WFISD for Clean Financial Report

Bond 2015 final update also concluded

 

Clean opinion. Best you can get. No noncompliance issues. No deficiencies.

 

Assurance Services Manager Claire Wootton’s summary of WFISD’s financial report for the fiscal year that ended Aug. 31, 2017 gave a positive start to the Jan. 9, 2018, work session at the Education Center. Ms. Wootton, a CPA,  provided the report as a representative of Weaver and Tidwell, L.L.P., who conducted the annual, independent audit as required by the Texas Education Code.

 

Board member Bill Franklin chimed in, saying, “This is one of the cleanest audits I have ever seen.”

 

Board member Bob Payton agreed. “We all felt good about the report and where we are,” he said.

 

Board members praised Chief Financial Officer Tim Sherrod and Director of Finance Denise Brown for the good work.

 

In other financial matters, board members reviewed a Bond 2015 Final Update as one final step toward wrapping up the 2015 Bond. They reviewed the 2015 bond reconciliation, current as of Jan. 4, 2018, that summarized costs.

 

The summary included $63.5 million, with an estimated $4 million WFISD commitment from Fund Balance, for a total bond amount of $59,500,000 spent on the following projects:

·        Building the Career Education Center

·        Making middle school additions and renovations at Barwise Middle School, McNiel Middle School and Kirby Middle School

·        Making Memorial Stadium Parking and Restroom Improvements

·        Updating technology infrastructure

·        Nearing Phase II completion of safety and security enhancements

As noted in the report, all projects came in under budget with the exception of the technology infrastructure update and Memorial Stadium Parking and Restroom Improvements. The total overage was $340,725, which was paid out of the General Fund in fiscal year 2015-2016.

 

The Memorial Stadium overage resulted from changing the scope of the project and not for any other reason, said Mr. Sherrod.

 

District Improvement Plan; Performance Objectives Update

Months ago, Mr. Griffiths and campus teams wrote out improvement plans for each campus, an annual ritual to comply with state regulations. The plans specified percentage increases that the campuses would strive for in a variety of subject areas.

 

However, teams wrote out the improvement plans to meet a TEA deadline that came ahead of publication of the TAPR report, which revealed the District’s 2016-2017 performance in those same areas.

 

It was difficult for committee members to construct workable goals when they didn’t know the most recent performance data for those same subjects. As a result, they set small goals and promised to return to them after publication of the TAPR report so they could be revised to coordinate with actual performance measures.

 

In Tuesday’s work session, Mr. Griffiths returned to board members with the promised revisions.

 

In Strategic Priority 1, the District aims to recruit, retain and support teachers and principals. The District will aim to decrease its turnover rate from 14.7 percent to 14 percent by 2018.

 

In Strategic Priority 2, the District aims to build a foundation of literacy and numeracy.  The District will aim to increase the number of students scoring in the Approaching Grade Level Standard or higher in reading, as reported by the TAPR, by 4 percent, from 67 percent to 71 percent, by 2018.

 

The District will seek the same increase in number of students improving in math -- a 2 percent increase to a 3 percent increase by 2018.

 

District End of Year reading reports in grades 1 and 2 will show a grade-level performance increase from 80 percent to 82 percent by May 2018. This goal is unchanged from the original document.

 

In Strategic Priority 3, the District aims to connect high school instruction to career and college success. Because the District had a higher-than-expected number of students who are considered college and career ready (86.3 percent compared to 85.5 percent), the District will keep its goal to reach 88 percent by 2018.

 

The District will also aim to increase the number of students earning 12 or more college credits in high school from 4.5 percent, as reported in the TAPR, to 9.4 percent by 2018. This number is expected to rise because of the explosion in dual credit classes this year.

 

The District expects to have 75 percent of students taking a coherent course sequence by 2018 and increase its graduates to 97 percent by 2018, up from 96.5 percent.

 

The District also aims to see 20 percent of its students achieve Masters Grade Level Standard (previously called Advanced), up from a previous goal of 18 percent, for 2018.

 

In Strategic Priority 4, the District aims to improve its low-performing schools by helping more children pass the state’s STAAR test. By 2018, the goal is for more students to perform at Approaches Grade Level Standard or higher, with 75 percent passing science and social studies tests in 2018 and 70 percent making similar scores in writing.

 

The District will aim to increase mandatory parental involvement fund expenses from 36.5 percent in 2017 to 46 percent in 2018 – a goal that went unchanged in the revision.

 

“Will we have to wait three years to see how it plays out?” asked board member Bob Payton.

 

No, said Mr. Griffiths. A preliminary STAAR report will update board members with current progress sooner than that.

 

Incentive pay for early retirement/resignation notice

The District would like to continue its three-year practice of giving incentive pay to WFISD certified teachers and professionals on term or continuing contracts who submit an early notice of retirement or resignation, according to Cyndy Kohl, director of human resources.

 

She gave board members a trend report showing the benefits of the practice.

 

During the past three years, the average number of teachers retiring was 33, she said. If all were on about Step 30 of the pay scale making about $59,000, the cost to the District for their paychecks is $1.9 million. With a tip-off that they are leaving, Ms. Kohl and her team would pursue specific replacements early in the year, replacing them with new hires having an average of 10 years experience, at a salary of about $45,000. “The cost to replace these positions would be $1,485,000, a difference of $462,000,” she said.

 

Such hires can also be made more easily earlier in the spring, ahead of competing school districts, she said.

 

She recommended offering a $1,500 incentive for retirement notices and a $750 incentive for resignation notices received before 4 p.m. on March 9, 2018. She estimated the impact to the 2017-2018 budget at between $81,000 and $144,000.

 

Two months of financial reports

Mr. Sherrod also reported on the past two months of finances for the District – the financial reports as of Oct. 31, 2017 and Nov. 30, 2017.

 

October 2017 financial report

The two financial reports represented two months of operations, 16.70 percent of the fiscal year. As of October 2016, the District collected 20.48 percent of projected revenues, as compared to 19.69 percent for 2017-2018. Expenditures for 2016-2017 were 13.44 percent of budget, compared to 15.89 percent for 2017-2018.

 

In the General Fund: Revenues were 22.46 percent last year compared to 22.29 this year. Expenditures were 15.83 percent last year, compared to 16.88 percent this year.

 

In the Food Service Fund: Revenues were 21.30 percent last year compared to 17.30 percent this year. Expenditures were 16.87 percent last year, compared to 14.84 this year.

 

In the Debt Service Fund:  Revenues were 3.24 percent last year, compared to 0.90 percent this year. Expenditures were zero in both years.

 

November 2017 financial report

This financial report represents three months of operations, or 25 percent of the fiscal year. As of November 2016, the District collected 29.30 percent of projected revenues, compared to 29.19 percent for 2017-2018. Expenditures for 2016-2017 were 19.85 percent of budget, compared to 25.18 percent for 2017-2018.

 

In the General Fund: Revenues were 31.32 percent last year, compared to 31 percent this year. Expenditures were 24.22 percent last year compared to 25.48 percent this year.

 

In the Food Service Fund: Revenues were 31.37 percent last year compared to 25.85 percent this year. Expenditures were 25.59 percent last year, compared to 28.50 percent this year.

 

In the Debt Service Fund: Revenues were 16.55 percent last year compared to 7.92 percent this year. Expenditures were zero both years.

 

December 2017 budget amendments

In a 7-0 vote, board members approved 17 budget amendments to the 2017-2018 budget. The amendments reflected no increase and were simply budgeted funds transferred between functions.

 

Amendments ranged from $17 to Ben Franklin Elementary to pay for shipping costs to $50,000 as an indirect costs of the SHARS cost settlement. The District receives SHARS funds as part of a contracted service for children who receive Medicaid and some sort of medical service from the District.

 

Budget transfers also included such expenses as $4,700 to pay for substitute teachers to cover Career Education Center staff seeking staff development, $1,200 to Zundy Elementary for copier and supply needs, and $41,500 for Memorial Stadium engineering fees.

 

2016-2017 Cooperative Program Managing Fees Report

Board members received a report of the 16 cooperative purchasing programs used by the District during the 2016-2017 fiscal year. Of the 16 programs, only two incurred fees: a $7,695 fee to Region VII and a $100 fee to the State of Texas Co-op.

 

The report also shows that WFISD received a rebate check of $342.48 from the TASB BuyBoard for last year and a rebate check from Citi bank for $9,999.21. Both checks were deposited into the General Fund.

 

Campus Turnaround Plan for Kirby Middle School

Associate Superintendent Peter Griffiths alerted board members to the Jan. 16 public hearing where Kirby Middle School Principal Troy Farris will present Kirby’s Campus Turnaround Plan. The Texas Education Agency required that Kirby develop the plan since this is its second year as an “Improvement Required” campus.

 

The plan will focus on two specific areas: Its High Reliability Training and its culture-enhancing program, Capturing Kids Hearts. Both programs have seen a lot of success at other campuses and are being adapted to Kirby, said Mr. Griffiths.

 

He explained that board members would be required to sign off on the plan, a new requirement from TEA that gives “a little more skin in the game for board members,” said Mr. Griffiths.

 

Local update on FDB(LOCAL)

Debby Patterson, executive director of school administration, asked board members to delete language in FDB(LOCAL) that says the District will impose an appeals committee to hear transfer denial appeals. Instead, the District will follow the procedures to petition the Board according to instructions in Education Code 25.034.

 

This update also removes wording that erroneously says a person making a false statement commits a criminal offense subject to imprisonment. Such an offense is actually a Class C misdemeanor, which can incur penalties but is not punishable by imprisonment.

 

Applicant pool

In a 7-0 vote, board members approved the applicant pool submitted to them by Ms. Kohl. It included the retirement of two professionals, one clerical worker, and resignations for seven professionals as of Dec. 15, 2017.