Topic: Schools Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST)
Reference or Contact: Budgets Coordinator
The District is required to prepare and distribute an annual financial management report. The report shall contain information on state-established standards and the District’s financial management performance for the current and previous years, financial accountability ratings. Board Policy BBFA, CAA
School FIRST is a financial accountability system for Texas school districts developed by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) in response to Senate Bill 875 of the 76th Texas Legislature in 1999. The primary goal of School FIRST is to achieve quality performance in the management of school districts’ financial resources. The goal is made more significant due to the complexity of accounting associated with Texas’ school finance system.
In order to comply with the requirements given in Title 19 of the Texas Administrative Code (TAC), §109.1005, all LEAs are required to report information and financial accountability ratings to parents and taxpayers by implementing specific reporting procedures, including the following:
- Within two months after receipt of its final FIRST rating, each LEA must announce and hold a public meeting to distribute a financial management report that explains the LEA’s rating and its performance under each of the indicators used in TEA’s analysis for the current year and each of the indicators used in TEA’s analysis for the prior year.
- The LEA must inform taxpayers of this public meeting by publishing two newspaper notices, the first of which may not be published more than 30 days prior to or less than 14 days prior to the public meeting. This public meeting may be combined with a scheduled regular meeting of the LEA’s governing board.
The financial management report must include specific information described in 19 TAC §109.1005. To help LEAs prepare the report, TEA has created a template for the report that LEAs can follow. In addition to the required information, LEAs are encouraged to provide additional information in the report that will be beneficial to taxpayers, especially information that can explain any special circumstances that may have affected the LEA’s FIRST rating. At the public meeting, the LEA should review the information that must be included in the financial management report. LEAs should review all of the requirements given in 19 TAC §109.1005 for additional information. Please note that as part of the financial management report, each LEA must provide a summary of the data that was previously submitted to TEA for purposes related to financial solvency. This data is required under the financial solvency provisions of Texas Education Code §39.0822.