For the second straight year, Huntsville ISD and New Waverly ISD earned an “A” for financial accountability.

The Walker County districts joined 87 percent of school districts and charters from across the state, earning the top grade and “superior” rating – the highest awarded by the Texas Education Agency.

Both Huntsville ISD and New Wavelry ISD received the same grade for the 2018 fiscal year as they did for the 2017 fiscal year, according to preliminary financial accountability ratings released last week by the Texas Education Agency. Scott Sheppard’s team inside the Huntsville district offices recorded a 96, while Darol Hail’s group in New Waverly snagged a perfect mark once again.

“We are proud to be rated an ‘A’ in the state’s financial accountability rating system for the second straight year,” Huntsville ISD Superintendent Scott Sheppard said. “The district works hard to make the most of our local tax dollars and limited state revenue, while also focusing on our most important work - school improvement.”

Created by the 77th Texas Legislature in 2001, the School Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) is designed to encourage public schools to better manage their financial resources to provide the maximum allocation possible for direct instructional purposes.

The FIRST ratings are calculated using 15 financial indicators, such as administrative cost expenditures; the accuracy of a district or charter’s financial information submitted to TEA; and any financial vulnerabilities or material weaknesses in internal controls as determined by an external auditor.

The financial accountability system requires TEA to review the audited financial reports from all districts and charters.

There are five critical indicators that result in an automatic F or Substandard Achievement rating should a school district or open-enrollment charter fail in that specific category – regardless of overall score.

All school districts and charters are required to report information and financial accountability ratings to parents and taxpayers. In addition, districts and charters must hold a public discussion or hearing regarding its financial report.

“We will continue to be conservative in our fiscal approach as the academic improvements we witnessed last year increase exponentially in the coming school term,” Sheppard added. “Our CFO, Paul Brown, along with every employee in the district, do an incredible job of keeping costs down and maintaining our financial integrity.”