Two things that top the list of citizens when it comes to their local school district are the quality of education and how are their dollars being spent.
The Mansfield Independent School District has long been renowned for its quality of education. The same is true of its financial accountability and integrity.
The Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) has been around for 15 years. Not so coincidentally, the MISD has received a superior rating, the highest available, from the Texas Education Agency.
Basically, this means the district is spending taxpayer dollars responsibly.
“The ultimate goal of the Mansfield ISD Business and Financial Services Department is to provide support for all district employees, customers and stakeholders, ensuring that all financial operations support the district's instructional goals and objectives, thereby providing our students with the best education possible," said Karen Wiesman, associate superintendent of business and finance."
Wiesman said the district continuously strives to be the best stewards of taxpayer dollars, and does not take that charge lightly.
"I am very proud of Mansfield ISD’s long-standing tradition of excellence in the state’s rating system, along with the various awards received for financial responsibility and reporting," she said. "I am grateful to all the employees in the business services office who work very hard to be efficient with our resources so that the focus can be on student success."
Ratings for 2017 were based on budgetary and financial date reported for the 2015-16 fiscal year. Mansfield once again passed all 15 indicators and received the subsequent highest rating.
Mansfield was not alone in receiving a superior rating this year. In fact, the Fort Worth area fared well as other school districts nearby with superior ratings include Grand Prairie, Midlothian, Burleson, Arlington, Birdville, Everman, Fort Worth, Grapevine-Colleyville, Lake Worth, Crowley, Kennedale, Azle, Hurst-Euless-Bedford, Castleberry, Carroll (Southlake) and White Settlement.
What makes the honor even more significant this year, Wiesman said, is the scoring was made even tougher by the state.
"The scoring for this year was more stringent, and there were more points required to achieve a rating of superior," she said. "Despite that, the district was still able to earn top marks.
School board president Raul Gonzalez said the long-standing financial integrity success is indicative that the school board understands the importance of properly handling the dollars entrusted to them by citizens.
"We genuinely try to do the best we can for our stakeholders in all areas from curriculum and programs to fiduciary responsibility," he said. "School boards and administration both past and present understand that district money has been entrusted to us by our taxpayers and we use it wisely."
Gonzalez said among the telling items that prove the responsibility are making sure construction costs stay within guidelines promised in bond elections. Also, balanced budgets are important to the community - a community that pitches in and does it's part also, he said.
"With state funding cuts, it can be difficult. However, we do our utmost to balance the budget every year," he said. "We have wonderful community partners who help MISD be the destination district that it is."
Gonzalez cited as an example the yearly Back-to-School Bash being completely paid for by sponsors.
"Countless community volunteers also help by serving on committees to identify areas of need so that when we must ask for bond funds community priorities are addressed," Gonzalez said. "As I always say, great things are happening in MISD, and our financial leadership is another of those things."