This chapter reviews the San Angelo Independent School District's (SAISD's) financial management function in the following sections:
- A. Fund Balance
- B. Planning and Budgeting
- C. Accounting Operations
- D. Payroll
- E. External and Internal Audit
Effective financial management in school districts involves well thought-out planning, budgeting and overall management of the district's resources to maximize financial performance. A district's ability to perform these tasks involves establishing solid relationships with its employees, vendors, funding agencies and the local community.
Financial management is most effective when resources are spent based on the district's established priorities, stated goals and objectives. Internal controls must be in place and operating as intended. Financial information should be provided in a timely manner and presented in a format that is easily understood by all audiences.
At the time that this review began, in March 2001, SAISD was in the midst of a growing financial crisis. The district had been operating under a deficit budget for the past three years with the expectation that there were sufficient funds available in the district's reserve fund balance to finance the deficit spending. Fund balances, or reserve balances, are established by school systems to function similarly to a savings account. Fund balances serve as a source of funds in case of an emergency, a source of cash to pay bills in case the outflow of cash for expenditures temporarily occurs faster than the inflow of revenue or a place to build up savings to make large purchases not affordable within a single year (for example, to invest in a new computer system).
Exhibit 7-1 provides a summary of the changes in fund balance in the district's general fund from 1997-98 through 2000-01 and the district's initial budget projections for 2001-02. The district has historically budgeted for more costs than it actually expended except for 2000-01 when expenditures exceeded the budgeted amount. During 1999-2000, the district experienced two situations that required a significant adjustment to its revenue estimates. In each of the years from 1997-98 through 2000-01, the district actually operated with a budget that required using funds from its general fund balance.
Exhibit 7-1Source: SAISD Audited Financial Statements 1997-98 through 1999-2000 and May 22, 2001 SAISD Business and Finance Departmental Projections.
General Fund's Changes in Fund Balance
1997-98 through 2001-02 Projections
1997-98 1998-99 1999-2000 *2000-01 **2001-02 Beginning Fund Balance $20,871,307 $23,222,299 $22,889,100 $14,400,885 $5,887,942 Budgeted Deficit ($3,119,047) ($5,650,351) ($12,384,057) ($8,083,628) ($14,678,753) Unspent (overspent) Funds $5,470,039 $5,317,152 $3,895,842 ($429,315) $0 Effect on Fund Balance $2,350,992 ($333,199) ($8,488,215) ($8,512,943) ($14,678,753) Ending Fund Balance $23,222,299 $22,889,100 $14,400,885 $5,887,942 ($8,790,811)
*Based on district's May 22, 2001 projections developed by assistant superintendent of Business and Finance.
**Based on initial 2001-02 budget projections received from SAISD Business and Finance Department before any proposed budget adjustments.
The review team attempted to trace the sequence of events that has lead to the current financial crisis. These efforts were sometimes hampered by the lack of information or documentation available from the district. The sequence of events relating to or identified as contributing to the current financial crisis at SAISD is as follows:
- The audited beginning general fund balance for 1997-98 was $20,871,307.
- The approved budget for 1997-98 has revenues totaling $81,372,488 and expenditures totaling $84,491,535, equaling a deficit of $3,119,047.
- The board approves an early retirement incentive program, and 81 employees participate and receive a lump sum equaling 32 percent of their annual salaries.
- The audited beginning general fund balance for 1998-99 was $23,222,299.
- The approved budget for fiscal 1998-99 had revenues totaling $90,368,143 and expenditures totaling $96,018,494, equaling a deficit of $5,650,351.
- The audited beginning general fund balance for 1999-2000 was $22,889,100.
- The approved general fund budget for 1999-2000 had revenues totaling $81,607,194 and expenditures totaling $93,991,251, equaling a deficit of $12,384,057.
- The assistant superintendent of Business and Finance advised the board that the district had a $27 million fund balance at a special board meeting called August 31, 1999.
- The external auditor, while performing the annual audit discovered that the district had made an error in its budgeted revenue for the coming year. The then director of Business and Finance misinterpreted enrollment figures in the district's submission to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) for the next year's funding levels. School districts are allotted funding based on TEA's average daily attendance formula and not actual enrollment figures. The error required SAISD to remit $4,227,063 back to the state. Compounding the problem was a double-counting of local tax revenue of $1,270,513 in the revenue projections. These errors resulted in a $5,497,576 reduction in the fund balance.
- The external auditor's report noted a $1,398,143 downward adjustment to the general fund balance. The revenue reported for the fiscal year ended August 31, 1998 understated the amount due to the state by $1,398,143. The fund balance for the year ending August 31, 1997 should have been $21,824,156 instead of $23,222,299. The downward adjustment noted by the auditor was reflected in the audited August 31, 1998 fund balance of $22,889,100.
- The assistant superintendent of Business and Finance reported to the board that unless the proposed 2000-01 budget was significantly reduced, the district's fund balance at the end of fiscal 2000-01 would be approximately $3.1 million.
- San Angelo Parental Rights Organization (SAPRO) held a public forum to give the community a chance to discuss the financial concerns with district officials.
- On March 7, 2000 the assistant superintendent of Business and Finance resigned.
- Sixty-six employees took advantage of the early retirement incentive program, costing the district $1.29 million, approximately $630,000 more than originally budgeted.
- SAPRO requests that TEA perform a complete financial audit of the district.
- The district selects a new assistant superintendent of Business and Finance.
- The district's director of Finance resigns.
- The audited beginning general fund balance for 2000-01 was $14,400,885.
- The approved budget for 2000-01 had revenues totaling $81,331,771 and expenditures of $89,415,399, equaling a deficit of $8,083,628.
- The board adopted a property tax rate of $1.506 down from $1.519.
- The board approved a 3 percent pay raise for all employees.
- The board approved a 10 percent pay raise for the superintendent.
- The superintendent announced plans to resign.
- The board voted to curtail the early retirement incentive program for the next fiscal year.
- The superintendent resigned and the board named an interim.
- The assistant superintendent of Business and Finance presented the initial proposed budget for fiscal year 2001-02. The projected fund balance for August 31, 2001 is $5,887,942. The proposed budget for 2001-02 projects revenues of $75,996,374 and expenditures totaling $90,675,127, meaning a deficit of $14,678,753. This would draw the fund balance into a negative position of ($8,790,811). The district believes that it can cut $4 million from salary expenses thereby reducing the negative fund balance at August 31, 2002 to ($4,790,811).
- TEA, in a meeting between TEA auditors and SAISD administrators, threatened to send in a monitor to take over the financial management of SAISD.
- The board voted to declare "financial exigency." Financial exigency is defined as an actual or impending financial crisis that threatens the survival of the district and cannot be alleviated without taking drastic measures, such as terminating contracted employees without having to fulfill the terms of the employment contract. In order to make the scope of cuts necessary, the district will have to cut more than 150 positions. The payroll makes up approximately 92 percent of the district's expenditures. This compares to the recommended TEA level of about 82 percent.
As a rule, most budgets contain some cushion to ensure the district has sufficient funds available for operations for the coming year. Exhibit 7-2 compares the enrollment numbers, the district's operating budget and the actual expenditures from 1997-98 through 2000-01. Over that period, the district's total enrollment dropped 6.6 percent while budgeted expenditures rose 5.8 percent and actual expenditures increased 16.7 percent.
Exhibit 7-2Source: TEA, AEIS 1997-98 through 1999-2000, PEIMS 2000-01, SAISD Audited Financial Statements 1997-98 through 1999-2000 and May 22, 2001 Business and Finance Department Projections.
SAISD Enrollment, General Fund Budgeted and Actual Expenditures
1997-98 through 2000-01
1997-98 1998-99 1999-2000 2000-01 Percent Change
Enrollment 17,240 16,730 16,405 16,101 (6.6%) General Fund Budgeted Expenditures $84,491,535 $96,018,494 $93,991,251 $89,415,399 5.8% General Fund Actual Expenditures $77,679,630 $90,343,816 $88,449,690 $90,675,127 16.7% General Fund Budgeted Revenues $81,372,488 $90,368,143 $81,607,194 $81,331,771 (0.1%) General Fund Actual Revenues $80,030,622 $96,127,723 $80,352,529 $82,162,185 2.7% Budgeted Deficit $3,119,047 $5,650,351 $12,384,057 $8,083,628 159.2%
A number of variables contributed to the financial situation the district now faces. The financial operations of the district have suffered from the lack of proper management by the administration and the board. The right questions were not asked, and accurate detailed information was not provided to assist in the decision-making process. The critical mistakes that SAISD made over the past three years can be summarized as follows:
- Deficit spending approved by the board;
- Spending fund balance on recurring expenditures;
- Lack of adequate financial reporting;
- Lack of strong budgeting procedures;
- Lack of financial expertise of the board and staff;
- Failure to adjust tax rate to meet expenditures;
- Weak internal financial controls;
- Failure to reduce staff in proportion to decline in student enrollment; and
- Lack of oversight by the board.
SAISD's Board of Trustees sets the district's tax rate. The board sets the tax rate after the adoption of the district budget in accordance with state law. The local appraisal district is responsible for setting property values and certifying tax rolls. In May of each year, the appraisal district provides an initial revenue estimate, but certified tax rolls are not available until July.
Local property taxes provide a significant source of revenue for SAISD. The 2000-01 tax levy of $27.7 million provided 31.3 percent of the total district's budgeted revenues for that year. An efficient tax collection system is important in order to produce high collection rates to cover the district's daily operations. The Tom Green County tax assessor collects property taxes on behalf of the district. These receipts are deposited directly into the district's local maintenance account at San Angelo National Bank, N.A. The county tax assessor also follows up on delinquent taxes for the district. For the 2000 tax year, the district collected approximately 98 percent of taxes due.
In August 2000, the SAISD Board of Trustees decreased its adopted tax rate by 0.8 percent, from $1.519 to $1.507 per $100 of assessed property value for 2000-01. The decrease reflected an anticipated increase in state funding due to decreased property values. In the previous two fiscal years, the district's tax rate remained constant at $1.519 per $100. Exhibit 7-3 presents a seven-year history of SAISD's adopted tax rates.
Exhibit 7-3Source: Tom Green County Appraisal District.
SAISD's Tax Rates Per $100 of Assessed Value
1994-95 through 2000-01
from Prior Year
1994-95 $1.2172 $0.1150 $1.3322 8.1% 1995-96 $1.2172 $1.1150 $2.3322 75.1% 1996-97 $1.2172 $0.2213 $1.4385 (38.3%) 1997-98 $1.2610 $0.1690 $1.4300 (0.6%) 1998-99 $1.3500 $0.1690 $1.5190 6.2% 1999-2000 $1.4238 $0.0952 $1.5190 0.0% 2000-01 $1.4210 $0.0855 $1.5065 (0.8%)
The projected revenue from local property taxes for fiscal 2001 shows a decrease of 5.5 percent from fiscal 2000. Exhibit 7-4 compares the past two fiscal years of SAISD's tax rates, taxable value and projected tax revenue. The taxable value for the district declined 4.9 percent between the two years.
Exhibit 7-4Source: Tom Green County Appraisal District.
SAISD's Property Tax Revenue Projections
Fiscal Years 1999-2000 through 2000-01
1999-2000 2000-01 Percent Change
1999-2000 to 2000-01
M&O Tax Rate $1.4238 $1.4210 (0.2%) Debt Fund Rate $0.0952 $0.0855 (10.2%) Total Tax Rate $1.5190 $1.5065 (0.8%) Taxable Value $1,936,076,311 $1,841,222,235 (4.9%) Projected Revenue $29,356,299 $27,747,247 (5.5%)
SAISD receives revenue from local, state and federal sources. On average, Texas school districts receive about 53.1 percent of their revenues from local property taxes, 43.6 percent from the state and 3.3 percent from federal sources. The amount of state revenue sent to each district is based upon a district's property values. Districts with greater property wealth per pupil receive less from the state because they can generate more property taxes, while districts with a lower property value per pupil receive more from the state.
Exhibit 7-5 compares SAISD to its peer districts in terms of property value per student for 1999-2000. All of the peer districts fall well below the state average. SAISD had the lowest in terms of property value per pupil in its peer group.
Exhibit 7-5Source: TEA, AEIS 1999-2000.
SAISD and Peer District Property Value per Student
District Property Value
Midland $184,117 Waco $134,838 Ector County $130,854 Abilene $125,663 San Angelo $118,017 State $198,900
SAISD's property value per student has steadily decreased since 1998-99. The 2000-01 property value per pupil is the lowest in the four-year period of 1997-98 through 2000-01
Exhibit 7-6Source: TEA, AEIS 1997-98 through 1999-2000, PEIMS 2000-01.
Property Value Per Pupil
1997-98 through 2000-01
1997-98 1998-99 1999-2000 2000-01 $116,213 $119,905 $118,017 $114,355 Percent Change
1997-98 - 1998-99
1998-99 - 1999-2000
1999-2000 - 2000-01
3.2% (1.6%) (3.1%)
SAISD and the majority of its selected peer districts receive a greater percent of their revenues from the state (Exhibit 7-7), the exception being Midland, which receives the greatest percent of its revenue from local sources. SAISD receives the next to the lowest level of federal funding of the peer group.
Exhibit 7-7Source: TEA, PEIMS, 2000-01.
Budgeted Revenue Sources as a Percentage of Total Revenues
SAISD and Peer Districts
Abilene 37.5% 58.0% 4.5% Ector 41.4% 53.9% 4.7% Midland 54.7% 41.5% 3.8% San Angelo 35.5% 60.6% 3.9% Waco 39.2% 54.9% 5.8%
Exhibit 7-8 displays SAISD's budgeted revenue for 2000-01, by source.
Exhibit 7-8Source: TEA, PEIMS, 2000-01.
SAISD Budgeted Revenue by Source
SAISD's budgeted revenues as submitted to TEA in October 2000 for all funds for fiscal 2001 total $88,530,195. Budgeted revenues for the general fund are $79,699,919 from all sources, while revenues from the special revenue and debt service funds are $181,500 and $3,900,274, respectively. The general fund relates to the general operations of the district and is used to account for all revenues and expenditures not accounted for in other funds. The special revenue fund is used to account for the proceeds of specific programs that are legally restricted as to their expenditures. The payment of principal and interest on the district's general obligation bonds is accounted for in the debt service fund. In addition to these three funds, the district also maintains a food services fund. The food services fund accounts for the district's cafeterias, with budgeted revenue for 2000-01 of $4,748,502.
Exhibit 7-9 shows a breakdown of SAISD's total budgeted expenditures by function, student enrollment and total expenditures per student for fiscal years 1996-97 through 2000-01. The function of instruction includes teacher salaries and all activities dealing directly with the interaction between teachers and students, including instruction aided with computers. The amount of funds devoted to instruction in SAISD has increased 18.7 percent from 1996-97 to 2000-01. Central administration expenditures have increased by 29.5 percent over the same period. Expenditures in technology and data processing have nearly tripled, and overall operating expenditures have increased by 23.6 percent.
Non-operating expenditures include those expenditures dedicated to community service, facilities acquisition and construction, capital outlay and debt service. Over the five years reviewed, non-operating expenditures increased by 56.1 percent.
Total budgeted expenditures increased by 26.4 percent between 1996-97 and 2000-01. This increase in expenditures occurred in spite of a 7.2 percent drop in enrollment. Per pupil expenditures rose 36.2 percent, from $4,501 to $6,131.
Exhibit 7-9Source: TEA, AEIS 1996-97 through 1999-2000 and PEIMS 2000-01.
SAISD Total Budgeted Expenditures by Function, Student Enrollment
and Total Expenditures per Student
1996-97 through 2000-01
Function 1996-97 1997-98 1998-99 1999-2000 2000-01 Percent Change
Over 5 Years
Instruction $42,167,341 $45,859,114 $46,718,366 $51,614,996 $50,032,214 18.7% Instructional Related Services 1,599,186 2,081,950 2,200,947 2,567,775 3,237,518 102.4% Instructional Leadership 2,325,107 2,640,407 2,684,757 2,885,993 2,192,693 (5.7%) School Leadership 4,432,990 4,806,184 5,123,895 5,194,095 5,461,997 23.2% Support Services Students 2,606,020 3,033,929 2,993,546 3,159,829 4,173,191 60.1% Student Transportation 1,301,626 1,165,625 1,450,180 1,708,279 1,692,694 30.0% Food Services 4,049,931 4,326,740 4,516,168 3,993,242 4,748,502 17.2% Cocurricular/ Extracurricular Activities 2,333,735 2,782,402 2,986,168 2,957,098 3,048,076 30.6% Central Administration 2,592,485 3,404,905 3,606,469 3,433,607 3,357,087 29.5% Plant Maintenance and Operations 7,489,566 8,514,687 8,023,269 8,476,393 8,629,899 15.2% Security and Monitoring Services 0 248,205 251,929 251,074 225,482 100.0% Data Processing Services 585,323 480,183 639,045 748,650 1,583,003 170.4% Total Budgeted Operating Expenditures $71,483,310 $79,344,331 $81,194,739 $86,991,031 $88,382,356 23.6% Community Services $43,642 $75,645 $91,295 $313,213 $276,814 534.3% Facilities Acquisition & Construction 13,000 0 385,546 58,535 103,116 693.2% Capital Outlay & Debt Service 6,563,160 6,685,830 11,267,023 12,444,576 9,956,633 51.7% Total Budgeted Non- Operating Expenditures $6,619,802 $6,761,475 $11,743,864 $12,816,324 $10,336,563 56.1% Total Budgeted Expenditures $78,103,112 $86,105,806 $92,938,603 $99,807,355 $98,718,919 26.4% Student Enrollment 17,354 17,240 16,730 16,405 16,101 (7.2%) Total Expenditures Per Student $4,501 $4,995 $5,555 $6,084 $6,131 36.2%
Exhibit 7-10 compares the district's total budgeted expenditures to those of its peer districts in terms of percent of total expenditures by function. At 50.7 percent, SAISD dedicates the second lowest percent of its budgeted expenditures to instruction among its peers and is lower than the state average of 51.3 percent. However, SAISD's central administration expenditures as a percent of total budgeted expenditures are the highest when compared to its peers. With the exception of Waco ISD, the district has the highest non-operating expenditures as a percent of total expenditures compared to its peers.
Exhibit 7-10Source: TEA, PEIMS, 2000-01.
Total Budgeted Expenditures by Function
SAISD, Peer Districts and State Averages 2000-01
Function Waco San Angelo Ector County Midland Abilene State Instruction 48.0% 50.7% 53.5% 54.6% 57.2% 51.3% Instructional Related Services 1.7% 3.3% 3.5% 3.1% 2.8% 2.6% Instructional Leadership 1.9% 2.2% 2.0% 0.6% 1.7% 1.2% School Leadership 6.6% 5.5% 4.8% 5.6% 5.1% 5.2% Support Services - Students 4.0% 4.2% 4.0% 3.9% 5.4% 4.0% Student Transportation 2.5% 1.7% 3.1% 2.7% 1.6% 2.5% Food Services 6.5% 4.8% 5.4% 5.2% 5.6% 4.9% Co-curricular/ Extracurricular Activities 2.4% 3.1% 2.2% 2.1% 2.7% 2.2% Central Administration 3.0% 3.4% 2.9% 2.6% 2.6% 3.5% Plant Maintenance and Operations 10.2% 8.7% 10.6% 10.2% 8.3% 9.6% Security and Monitoring Services 0.8% 0.2% 0.6% 0.4% 0.2% 0.6% Data Processing Services 1.2% 1.6% 0.8% 1.0% 0.7% 1.1% Total Operating Expenditures 88.8% 89.5% 93.3% 92.0% 93.9% 88.7% Non-Operating Expenditures 11.2% 10.5% 6.7% 8.0% 6.1% 11.3% Total Budgeted Expenditures 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%