June 24, 2013
Subject: Official Notification of 2013 Preliminary School FIRST Rating
To the Administrator Addressed:
Your school district’s preliminary 2013 School Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) rating is now available in the online School FIRST system, which can be accessed through the Texas Education Agency Secure Environment (TEASE) at https://seguin.tea.state.tx.us/apps/logon.asp.
Basis for School FIRST Rating
Your district's rating is based on an analysis of the district's financial data for fiscal year 2012 (the fiscal period ended June 30, 2012, or August 31, 2012, depending on the ending date of your district’s fiscal year). We determined your district's rating using the financial indicators specified in 19 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §109.1002(f).
Please carefully review your district’s preliminary School FIRST rating and the data associated with each of the 20 indicators.
Opportunity for Appeal
If your district believes that its rating was based on a data error solely attributable to our review of the data for any of the 20 indicators, your district may submit a written appeal with supporting evidence to the Financial Accountability Division. For the appeal to be considered, we must receive it by July 25, 2013. Send any appeal to the following address:
Texas Education Agency
Financial Accountability Division
1701 N. Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78701
Errors made by your district in recording data or submitting data through the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) do not constitute a valid basis for appeal.
Please see 19 TAC §109.1002(i) for the rules regarding the filing of an appeal. Per that section, we will consider only an appeal that would result in a change to your district’s rating.
Final School FIRST Rating and Required Reporting
We will issue final ratings to school districts after we have reviewed any submitted appeals. The anticipated release date for final 2013 School FIRST ratings is September 9, 2013.
Within two months of the release of its final School FIRST rating, your school district must announce and hold a public meeting to distribute a financial management report that explains the district’s rating and its performance under each of the 20 indicators for the current and prior fiscal years. The report also must provide the financial information described in 19 TAC §109.1005(b)(2). We encourage your district to include in the report additional information that will be beneficial to taxpayers, especially information explaining any special circumstances that may have affected the district’s performance under one or more of the indicators.
The first of two required newspaper notices to inform taxpayers of the meeting must be published no more than 30 days and no fewer than 14 days before the public meeting. Your district may combine the meeting with a scheduled regular meeting of the board of trustees.
For full requirements related to the report and meeting, see 19 TAC §109.1005. For a template that your district can use in developing its financial management report, see the TEA FIRST web page at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index4.aspx?id=3864.
Accreditation and Special Education Determination Statuses
Please note that the TEA considers a school district’s School FIRST rating when assigning an accreditation status, per the accreditation status rules in 19 TAC §97.1055.
Additionally, your district’s final School FIRST rating may impact its special education determination status as issued by the TEA under the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, §300.608(a).
Contact for Further Information
If you have questions about your district’s School FIRST rating, please contact me by telephone at
(512) 475-3451 or by email at Belinda.Dyer@tea.state.tx.us.
Director of Financial Accountability
Office of School Finance
cc: Education Service Center Executive Directors
Lisa Dawn-Fisher, Ph.D., Associate Commissioner, School Finance/
Chief School Finance Officer, TEA
Nora Ibáñez Hancock, Ed.D., Associate Commissioner,
Office for Grants and Fiscal Compliance, TEA
Sally Partridge, Associate Commissioner,
Department of Accreditation and School Improvement, TEA