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Houston County Courier - Local News

Copyright 2017 - Polk County Publishing Company

 

CISD receives A+ for financial performance

 

Alton Porter
News Reporter

Crockett Independent School District's (CISD) finances were in A+ condition during the most recent fiscal year, in the opinion of numbers crunchers in the district's outside audit firm. Greg Peterson of the Weaver Assurance-Tax- Advisory firm, the district's external audit company, broke that good news about the financial performance of the district during fiscal year 2016-2017 to members of the CISD Board of Trustees at a board meeting Monday, Nov. 27. Referring to a page he described as "kind of the report card for the audit" his firm compiled after reviewing the district's finances for last school year, Peterson said, "We issue two opinions. "We issue one on the financial statement. Then, we issue one on the financial awards. You can see that we issued an unmodified opinion (on the financial statement). That's the highest level of assurance you can receive from an audit. That's saying your numbers have no material misstatement to our knowledge." Commenting on the financial statement, Petersons said, "You had no material weakness," adding however, there was a significant deficiency, a less serious matter, that CISD Superintendent Terry Myers addressed at the meeting. District officials have policies in place to correct that deficiency Peterson and Myers said. Peterson continued, "There are no instances of noncompliance." Moving to the federal awards section on the page, Peterson said, again, there was no material weakness, no significant deficiency. "We issued another unmodified opinion (for this part of the audit)," he said. "We performed a single audit over the Fund for the Improvement of Education Program, and your major program type threshold is $750,000, and the district qualified as a low-risk oddity. "Receiving unmodified opinions is a very good thing. It's kind of the A+ on the report card." Elaborating on an increase in the district's fund balance, Peterson said, "Just looking at your general fund, which is the primary operating fund of the district, you had total expenditures of $11.8 million … (and an) unassigned fund balance of $6 million. "So, in essence, what you have is approximately 108 days of expenditures in unassigned fund balance. Most districts try to maintain 30 to 60 days. That's another A+ rating there on that as well." Board Secretary and District 4 Trustee Karen Johnson offered a motion to approve and accept the audit report as presented, and District 2 Trustee Mo Amjad, seconded the motion, which unanimously passed on a show of hands vote. Before Peterson's presentation, Myers presented some highlights from the audit report. He noted, the district's net position increased by $1,946,133 over the previous period, and total bonded debt decreased by almost $504,000. "So, our debt is decreasing and our net position is increasing (despite major wage and salary raises given teachers and purchases made during last year)," Myers said. "I'm very, very pleased to report those to you." The increase in the fund balance will help the district offset the initial first-year cost of the pending purchase of the former Crockett State School property and other possible capital outlay projects, he said. "This is a tremendous increase in the fund balance." In addition, Myers reported, at the end of the audited fiscal year, the district was able to report positive balances in all categories of net position and no deficiencies were identified during the audit in internal control over financial reporting that were considered to be material weaknesses. Material weaknesses are things that are not corrected or overcome, "that could sink the ship, basically," Myers explained. He elaborated on the significant deficiency mentioned by Peterson. The deficiency was for purchasing some items from two vendors without going out and accepting bids for the items after the district had bought a total of $50,000 in goods or services from the vendors, as is required. "Quite frankly it's just something that slipped by me, and it slipped by (CISD Business Manager) Gail (Hanson), Myers said. However, he said policy is in place, the matter has been addressed and the mistake won't be repeated. In answer to a question from Dr. John Garner, trustee for District 5, asking him to compare the financial success of CISD to the successes of other districts his firm is hired by, Peterson explained, "to have 108 days of unassigned fund balance is pretty unusual. You're on the higher tier of the districts that we audit. "Most of them aren't monitoring their expenses close enough, staying close enough to budget. … Really by just being able to monitor these expenditures, I think, it really just goes back to having good folks in your financial office to monitor those." In response to a question from Amjad, asking longtime District 6 Trustee and Board Vice President Trey Young about past financial results of the district, Young said, "In 2006, when I got on this board, we had a general fund balance of $135,000. That's all we had. … I would like to say thank you all (Myers, Hanson and other CISD staff members) very much (for the financial success of the district). Garner, who said he has been a trustee seven years, commended district staff members saying, "I really do appreciate the way that so many members in this district—administration, faculty, board members and patrons—have approached this. I guess we did have challenges. There's no doubt about that. "But, through our hard work and tough decisionmaking that we were required to do in assembling a topnotch administration and faculty, we've been able to pull it out. "And to those detractors who might say … —those who have marginalized our district at one time or might have looked forward to its demise— this work that's been done this last several years is paying off. "We'd invite everybody who would like to get on this train that's moving to get on with us because we're moving in the right direction at an accelerated speed." In other business at the meeting, the trustees: • Held a public hearing on the Texas Education Agency's Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST), as it pertains to CISD, during which Myers and Hanson informed them the school district was awarded an "A," or "Superior" grade, receiving 98 out of 100 points, under the system—the state's school financial accountability rating system—for the 2015-2016 fiscal year; and • Unanimously passed a motion offered by Johnson— seconded by District 1 Trustee Joshua Crabtree— splitting their 1,046 allotted votes evenly in two subtotals for the impending Houston County Appraisal District Board of Directors election, casting 523 votes each for currently serving Board Chairperson Kathi Calvert and Board Member W.F. "Red" Kitchen to continue in their board positions during 2018-2019.

 

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