School districts across Cherokee County received a superior stamp of approval from the Texas Education Agency on their financial accountability.
Jacksonville, Rusk, Bullard and New Summerfield received the highest rating in the TEA's Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) annual reports for the 2010 – 2011 school year.
The FIRST looks at a wide range of identifiers that contribute to a sound district, including tax collection rates, student to teacher ratios, percent of debt compared to revenues, decrease in unrestricted reserve funds and more.
Some identifiers are scored a 'yes' or 'no' while others are graded on a point system from zero to five. A passing score is 52 points and a perfect score is a 70. A superior rating falls between a score of 64 and 70, said Lindy Finley, assistant superintendent of finance and operations for Jacksonville ISD.
Finley said this is the tenth consecutive year for the district to achieve the rating.
“It's not a one-time test you take, it's based on your year-long performance and fiscal responsibility,” she said.
The district scored a 68. Finley said the deducted points had to so with a higher teacher-to-student ratio in its classrooms and the amount of debt in its debt service fund.
“We increased (our debt) this time, but the taxpayers vote on that so it's not anything to be concerned about,” she said. “We are way under the debt rate that is allowed by law.”
Rusk ISD achieved a perfect score of 70. Officials said this is the tenth year for the district to receive the rating.
“The superior achievement is due to the successful efforts of the board of trustees, administration, faculty and staff of Rusk ISD,” said Lesa Jones, director of finance at Rusk ISD. “These groups have successfully utilized resources available to the district to provide a quality education to the students of Rusk ISD.”
New Summerfield scored a 65. Superintendent Gregg Weiss said this is the sixth to seventh year the district has achieved the rating.
Five points were deducted from a category comparing information submitted to TEA through its reporting system to information in the district's financial auditing report.
“We paid off some buildings, I think that might have triggered something,” Weiss said.
Weiss said the district paid between $800,000 and $900,000 to pay off its cafeteria building. He said the expenditure generally runs about $150,000 per year.
“We've been saving for some construction and building programs and we decided to go ahead and pay off that debt,” he said.
“I've got a very conscientious board and we try to stick to that plan, get kids what they need and being conservative and putting back for these kind of days,” Weiss said. “It's been tough.”
Bullard ISD also achieved a perfect score of 70.
Officials from Bullard ISD could not be reached by press time.
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Parade, other events canceled in Rusk
Several holiday events in Rusk have been postponed until next week due to inclement weather, according to the local Chamber of Commerce.
A memorial service for Lula Hamm, age 60, of Jacksonville, is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, December 21, 2013 at the Fellowship Bible Church on Hwy 79 in Jacksonville.
Nursery brings abundance of holiday plant to local area
Standing in the midst of a poinsettia-filled greenhouse at Color Spot Nurseries, two men work in tandem, carefully spraying adhesive on the plants' leaves that will hold fast an iridescent glitter being shaken upon them.
Area pastor announces bid for county commissioner
The Rev. Kenneth Cain of Jacksonville's Benson Memorial CME Church has filed to run as a Democrat for the Precinct 4 County Commissioner position currently occupied by incumbent Republican Byron Underwood.
Fletcher resigns county court seat
Craig Fletcher, whose seven-year career as Cherokee County Court at Law Judge includes helping tighten laws against violent sex offenders, intends to resign his position next week, officials confirmed Friday.
Residents have hard time finding voting location
A great many local residents who turned up at the Jacksonville Public Library to cast ballots in Tuesday's Jacksonville ISD and state constitutional amendment elections apparently were unaware they were in the wrong place to vote.
- Festivals and all kinds of fun stuff round out month’s events in Cherokee County
Grand Champion hay producer
This year's Cherokee County Hay Show & Sale, held Tuesday at the Cherokee County Exposition Center in Jacksonville, raised approximately $14,000, part of which will benefit a scholarship fund for county students.
97-year-old Ponta resident is ‘blessed’
Despite a recent bout with breast cancer and losing both a child and a grandchild to different illnesses, 97-year-old Ponta resident Elna Perkins is quick to point out that her life has been filled with blessings.
Public meeting today to help explain health care act
Stephanie Raymer, a Regional Partnership Specialist with the Health and Human Services Commission, will field questions about the Affordable Care Act during a 10 a.m. session Thursday at First Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville.
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- Parade, other events canceled in Rusk