Paul Fitts, a CPA and partner for Weaver accounting firm, on Monday told Burleson ISD board members that his firm’s recent audit showed no significant problems with the district’s finances and accounting. He said his firm is giving the district “an unqualified opinion, also called a clean opinion.”
“There is no higher grade you can get,” Fitts said. “An unqualified opinion is the best result you can get. We found no issues in testing and no issues in compliance.”
The auditor also had high praise for Chief Financial Officer Brenda Mize and her staff, saying auditors had received full cooperation from the district’s staff.
Fitts said that expenditures for fiscal year 2013 stood at $102.2 million, an increase of $6.2 million over the previous year. Most of that increase, he said, was in facilities maintenance and improvements.
The district’s revenues were $97 million, a $2 million decrease — about 2 percent — from the previous year. Most of the decrease, Fitts said, was because of a decrease in federal funds.
The district’s total fund balance was $56,410,493, down by $3.7 million, primarily due to debt service.
Fitts also said that the district’s revenues were over budget by about $1.4 million, and expenditures were under budget by about $1.6 million.
Charles Osborne, the district’s executive director of curriculum, assessment and instruction, told board members that staff members are working to update the Checkpoints program, a system of tests administered at specific times to students in specific grades and intended to give an idea of where students stand relative to the state curriculum.
Osborne and Superintendent Bret Jimerson stressed that students’ performance on the Checkpoints tests are not predictive of how they will perform on the state-mandated State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness tests.
Information Osborne provided showed that when the Checkpoints scores and STARR scores for the same groups of children are compared on the basis of percentage of questions answered correctly, BISD students’ Checkpoints results and STAAR scores are similar.
The Checkpoints tests, Osborne said, give teachers and administrators an idea of where students stand early enough to make the adjustments necessary for students to perform well on the STAAR tests.
“These tests allow the teachers to intervene sooner when there is a problem,” Jimerson said. “They can look at these results and see what problems there are and address them before they move on to something else.”
The Checkpoints are also intended to help administrators and teachers figure out which teaching methods are working best.
Jimerson said administrators on every campus use the Checkpoints data, but the degree to which they use the information varies from one campus to another, from one teacher to another.
He also said that the key is confidence in the tests and their results, and so Osborne and his staff are beginning what will be an ongoing review process to keep the Checkpoints tests up to date, relevant and effective.
“We want everyone to be confident at the [Checkpoints tests] are an accurate representation and a useful tool,” Jimerson said.
Board members voted to name Texas AgriLife Extension Agent Kristen Greer and other county extension agents as adjunct faculty and to designate county 4-H programs and activities as extracurricular activities.
That designation, Greer said, allows her and other extension agents to be chaperones for students at 4-H events and allows students to attend 4-H events without being penalized for missing classes, just as in other extracurricular activities.
Greer said that during the last 4-H year, Johnson County 4-H included 340 students. Of those, she said, 29 were from BISD. Greer said that other school districts in the county have designated the extension staff as adjunct faculty and 4-H as official extracurricular activities, and that she hopes having those designations will encourage more Burleson students to participate in 4-H events.
Greer said that all of the county extension agents have at least a bachelor’s degree and all have passed a criminal background check, making them eligible for adjunct faculty status.