Correspondence for Independent School Districts
  • Aug 8, 2019

    Posted by Business Center on 8/12/2019
    1. Official Notification of Preliminary 2018-2019 School FIRST Ratings

    A preview of your school district’s preliminary 2018–2019 School Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) rating is now available online. The ratings will be publicly announced, August 8, 2019. To access your district’s School FIRST rating:

    If your district wants to appeal an adverse issue it identifies in the preliminary rating, your district may submit a written appeal with supporting evidence to the Financial Accountability Section. For the appeal to be considered, TEA must receive it by September 9, 2019.

    If you have questions about your district’s School FIRST rating, please contact Robin Aldridge at (512) 463-3940 or by email Robin.Aldridge@tea.texas.gov  or Yolanda Walker at (512) 463-0947 or by email at Yolanda.Walker@tea.texas.gov.


    1. Instructional Materials Allotment for 2019-2020 and 2020-2021

    The 2020‒2021 technology and instructional materials allotment allocations for each district are now available at https://tea.texas.gov/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=51539631497. The district allotment allocations are expected to be populated in EMAT, the state’s online ordering system, on August 2, 2019.

    Although the amounts will soon be available in EMAT, the actual funds will not be available until after September 1, 2019. Until that time, districts may use unexpended funds (carry-over funds) for allotment expenditures, including newly adopted instructional materials, continuing contracts, technological equipment, and/or technology services.

    The TEA correspondence in reference to this information can be found at: Instructional materials

    1. HB 3 Information

    In addition to the HB3 in 30 video series, some of the recent correspondence letters include:

    Stay tuned to the HB 3 website, as TEA has continued to push out new information regarding HB 3 weekly.

    1. Maximum M&O Tax Rates

    TEA has clarified that previous communications related to tax rates showed maximum M&O tax rates rounded (up) to four decimals for purposes of illustrating concepts related              to tax compression. These communications were not intended to give districts permission to levy tax rates above their voter approval tax rates. Districts should consult with their attorneys during the tax rate setting process to ensure they comply with the Education Code and the Tax Code when making decisions about truncating adopted tax rates.


    Please visit TEA’s website (tea.texas.gov/HB3) for the most up-to-date presentation on tax rate changes at https://tea.texas.gov/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=51539630861 and the most up-to-date tax rate template at https://tea.texas.gov/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=51539631119.

    1. SB 500 Implementation: Additional Funding for Special Education Services

    SB 500, Section 30(3)(C), provides an amount of $61,147,333 for special education funding under Strategy A.1.1., FSP – Equalized Operations, to be distributed for each full-time equivalent student in average daily attendance in a special education program, in proportion to the applicable weight for the student under the public school finance system.

    These amounts will be paid out by August 30, 2019 and will be delivered as a stand-alone payment to all affected LEAs outside of the Summary of Finances. LEAs should document as follows:

    • Record payments in the General Fund, under Object Code 5819, Other Foundation School Program Act Revenues
    • Record expenditures of these funds under Program Intent Code (PIC) 23, Services to Students with Disabilities (Special Education)

    The TEA correspondence in reference to this information can be found at: Special Ed

    Comments (-1)
  • June 25, 2019

    Posted by Business Center on 6/25/2019

    TEA has launched a new web video series, “HB3 in 30.” Each video will feature, in roughly 30 minutes, an overview and detailed explanation of a specific provision in House Bill 3, as well as information on how TEA is working to implement applicable changes to public education required by this new legislation. Videos will be released every Thursday and will be accompanied by supporting documents available for download.

    The first video in the series, an overview of Budget Planning for Teacher Compensation, is scheduled for release on Thursday, June 27.

    A full schedule of weekly release dates, a summary of HB3, frequently asked questions, and implementation guidance for school districts can be found on the TEA House Bill 3 information site.

    Comments (-1)
  • June 20, 2019

    Posted by Business Center on 6/20/2019
    1. New Expenditure Reporting Process


    A new Expenditure Reporting (ER) System Quick Reference Guide is available to assist subgrantees in using the ER system to request grant payments.

    Payment requests in “Saved/Not Certified” status must now be certified and submitted by the grantee’s authorized official within 10 business days from the date it was entered into the ER system. If a payment request is not certified and submitted by the tenth business day from the date it was entered, it will be automatically cancelled.

    Failure to certify and submit payment requests in a timely manner may increase the grantee’s likelihood of being selected for in-depth grant monitoring.

    Contact Information  For expenditure reporting questions, please contact the Grants Administration Division at 512-463-8525 or email your questions to TEAExpenditures@tea.texas.gov.


    1. 2019–2020 Indirect Cost Rates


    The Federal Fiscal Compliance and Reporting (FFCR) Division has published indirect cost rates for independent school districts and open-enrollment charter schools. These rates are effective July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020.

    You may find your indirect cost rates in either of two places:

    • The Indirect Cost Rates page of the TEA website lists 2019–2020 indirect cost rates for all independent school districts and open-enrollment charter schools.

    The GFFC Reports and Data Collections secure TEAL application includes a 2019–2020 Indirect Cost Rate Notification Letter for each independent school district and open-enrollment charter school.



    1. Risk assessment level for school year 2019–2020 (fiscal year 2020)


    TEA has assigned all LEAs a risk level for the 2019–2020 school year. You may learn your risk assessment level by accessing the GFFC Reports and Data Collections secure application, where you will find a letter for your organization.


    The TEA correspondence in reference to this information can be found at: https://tea.texas.gov/About_TEA/News_and_Multimedia/Correspondence/TAA_Letters/Risk_assessment_level_for_school_year_2019%E2%80%932020_(fiscal_year_2020)/



    1. 2017-2018 Final Summary of Finances


    A final Summary of Finances (SOF) and other related reports for the 2017–2018 school year are now posted to the School Finance website of the Texas Education Agency (TEA). A final Summary of Finances (SOF) and other related reports for the 2017–2018 school year are now posted to the School Finance website of the Texas Education Agency (TEA). This includes the final student data as reported in PEIMS, audited tax collection from schedule J-1, and other final calculations by TEA.


    The TEA correspondence in reference to this information can be found at: https://tea.texas.gov/About_TEA/News_and_Multimedia/Correspondence/TAA_Letters/2017-2018_Final_Summary_of_Finances/

    Comments (-1)
  • June 20, 2019

    Posted by Business Center on 6/20/2019

    The ESC Region 11 Business Office has reached out to Rita Bunton at TEA to get some clarification on the new FIRST rating indicators and how they will be viewed in light of HB 3. We are always here to support you at the district level and will continue to work on your behalf to provide additional information as it becomes available.


    Below are the questions I asked Rita and her response to each of them:


    1. How to schools need to handle the lag money discussion (indicator 20) now that we are using current year’s values?


    A: Your email has been forwarded to David Marx, the director of Financial Compliance, concerning indicator 20. David and other upper level management will make the decision on retaining or removing indicator 20 for the 2020–2021 School FIRST rating year.


    1. Due to the uncertainty on how current year values might or might not change during the year before certified by the Comptroller, how will the budgeted to actual revenue (indicator 10) be viewed?


    A: For indicator 10 for the 2020–2021 School FIRST rating year, I will review the preliminary points earned by each school district for indicator 10 and report the points/scores to management before the preliminary ratings are released. Management will then make the decision on any adjustments that may or may not need to be made to indicator 10 before the preliminary ratings are released. I have noted the concerns of school districts concerning using current values for the first time and how this may impact the points that they may receive on indicator 10.

    Comments (-1)
  • June 18, 2019

    Posted by Business Center on 6/18/2019

    TEA has published a FAQ document in their HB 3 section of the website. Be sure to review the document frequently for updates on specific questions, including the 30% requirement, as it will be updated with additional guidance as it becomes available.



    Comments (-1)
  • June 11, 2019

    Posted by Business Center on 6/11/2019
    1. TEA Update on Summary of Finances

     The summary of finances (SOF) report for 2019-2020 located on the School District State Aid Reports webpage is based on current/old law. Given the magnitude of changes prescribed by HB3, it will be several months before the agency can put up a new report with all the new data fields and allotments. The foundation school fund allotment will be updated prior to the first payment in September, even if the SOF report is still being updated.


    1. TEA Update on the Tax Information Survey (TIS) for the 2018–2019 school year

     The survey opened for data submission June 10, 2019, and will close at midnight on August 31, 2019. If your district does not submit the survey by the deadline, your district’s state funding for the 2018–2019 school year could be adversely affected. Please do not submit any tax data related to the upcoming 2019 tax year (2019–2020 school year).

    Please ensure that your district has completed and submitted the TIS using the online FSP System by August 31, 2019. Completing the survey is important because it allows the agency to use the most accurate tax collections data possible when we calculate 2018–2019 near-final Summary of Finances (SOF) estimates in September 2019. Your district will not have another opportunity to submit revised tax collections data for the 2018–2019 school year until the district submits its J1 schedule as part of its annual financial and compliance report. The J1 schedule tax collections will not be incorporated in the 2018–2019 SOF until April 2020. Compressed tax rates for districts which have adopted tax rates more than six pennies over their original compressed tax rate will be automatically adjusted.

    1. Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Statement No. 84, Fiduciary Activities

    The GASB recently released GASB Statement No. 84, Fiduciary Activities, and subsequently released an Exposure Draft Implementation Guide. The Statement may affect how independent school districts and governmental charter schools report for any:

    • Pension (and other employee benefit) trust funds,
    • Investment trust funds,
    • Private-purpose trust funds, and
    • Custodial (formerly agency) funds.

    The statement establishes guidelines for identifying fiduciary activities and determining if these activities should be reported in the governmental funds financial statements (C1/C2) as a special revenue fund.

    The statement is effective for reporting periods beginning after December 15, 2018 or the fiscal 2019-2020 year.

    The TEA correspondence can be found at: GASB #24

    1. Request for Letters of Interest – Lone Star STEM Pilot Grant, Cycle 1, Year 1

    The Texas Education Agency (TEA) is actively seeking the participation of school districts in the Lone Star STEM Pilot. Interested school districts should submit a Letter of Interest (LOI) in the template included in Attachments 1 and 2 to TEA by June 20, 2019 at 5 p.m. CDT. The TEA correspondence requesting competitive Letters of Interest provides information on the initiative, requirements for participation, and steps to respond to the LOI request.  LOI Submissions are due by June 20, 2019.

    The TEA correspondence can be found at:

    STEM Pilot Grant


    1. New Instructional Facility Allotment (NIFA); Online Application for Funding

    A recent TEA correspondence provides information about the New Instructional Facility Allotment (NIFA), available to public school districts (districts). It describes the allotment, explains the eligibility criteria and application process, and spells out the NIFA payments process. Districts must apply online by July 15, 2019, to receive funding.


    The TEA correspondence can be found at: NIFA


    1. Travel Reimbursement Rates

    The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts has published the travel and mileage reimbursement rates to be effective through August 31, 2019, as summarized below:

    • The automobile mileage reimbursement rate is 58 cents per mile.
    • The meal reimbursement rate for overnight travel is listed by city on the federal per diem rate map. If the city you are traveling to is not listed, use the daily rate for the county. If the county to which you are traveling is not listed, use the current maximum daily reimbursement rate of $55.
    • The meal reimbursement rate for non-overnight travel is up to $36.
    • Lodging reimbursement rates for in-state and out-of-state travel are listed on the federal per diem rate map. If the city you are traveling to is not listed, use the daily rate for the county. If the county to which you are traveling is not listed, use the current maximum daily reimbursement rate of $94.

    The mileage, lodging, and meal rules and reimbursement rates published by the comptroller apply to all grants that TEA administers for individuals on travel status.

    For detailed travel rules and reimbursement rate information, visit the Texas State Comptroller’s website at:  https://fmx.cpa.texas.gov/fmx/travel/textravel/rates/current.php

    Comments (-1)
  • March 19, 2019

    Posted by Business Center on 3/19/2019
    1. Instructional Materials Ordering for the 2019−20 School Year
    • 2018-2019 EMAT will close at 12:00 p.m. CDT on April 1, 2019.School districts and open-enrollment charter schools should place orders for instructional materials needed during the 2018−19 school year before April 1, 2019.
    • 2019-2020 EMAT will reopen for ordering materials for the 2019−20 school year on May 1, 2019.
    • TEKS Certification: School districts and open-enrollment charter schools are required to certify annually to the State Board of Education and the commissioner that, for each subject in the required curriculum other than physical education, students have access to instructional materials that cover all the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills.
      • Districts and charter schools will be unable to order 2019−20 instructional materials through EMAT until the certification has been received by the Texas Education Agency.

    Additional information is available in the TEA correspondence found at: Ordering Materials


    1. LEA Preparation for 2017–2018 Preliminary IDEA-B LEA MOE Compliance Reviews

    A recent TEA correspondence was intended to alert LEAs to the anticipated release date of 2017–2018 preliminary Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Part B (IDEA-B) LEA maintenance of effort (MOE) compliance reviews and to provide a timeline for LEA response to preliminary reviews.

    The following table lists milestones for the IDEA-B LEA MOE process:



    April 2019

    TEA posts preliminary IDEA-B LEA MOE Compliance Review reports in GFFC Reports and Data Collections, accessible through TEAL.

    Within 5 business days after preliminary reports are posted

    Due date for LEAs to submit Exceptions Workbook to GFFC Reports and Data Collections (accessible through TEAL) for TEA consideration in the final compliance calculation.

    May 2019

    TEA posts final IDEA-B LEA MOE Compliance Review reports in GFFC Reports and Data Collections, accessible through TEAL.

    Additional details can be found in the original TEA correspondence at:  IDEA B LEA MOE

    Comments (-1)
  • February 19, 2019

    Posted by Business Center on 2/19/2019
    1. Template: Omar Garcia with BOK Financial Securities has a new release (Release 1 dated 02/07/2019) that is now available for download.  This new release loads the preliminary 2018 values as recently certified by the Comptroller’s office and makes other minor adjustments (see Notes tab). 


    The new version is available at: http://www4.esc13.net/finance/


    1. Debt Obligation Reporting under Local Government Code, Section 140.008

    The 84th Legislature passed HB 1378 to increase the transparency of local government debt. Under Local Government Code §140.008, political subdivisions, including counties, cities, school districts, junior college districts, special purpose districts, and other subdivisions of state government must annually compile their debt obligation data from the preceding fiscal year and either:

    1. report it to the Comptroller of Public Accounts for posting or, alternatively,
    2. post the information on their own websites.

    Political subdivisions shall report the required information via Option 1 or 2 above within 180 days of the end of the most recently completed fiscal year. For fiscal years ending August 31st, the submission/posting deadline is February 27, 2019.


    Additional information can be found on the Comptroller’s website at: https://comptroller.texas.gov/transparency/local/hb1378/

    Comments (-1)
  • January 17, 2019

    Posted by Business Center on 1/17/2019

    Reminder to File Annual Financial Report for August 31 districts/charters

    School districts and charter schools must:

    1. Prepare its annual financial statements,
    2. Have its annual financial statements audited by a licensed independent CPA firm, and
    3. Submit the resulting audited annual financial and compliance report (AFR), and additional data to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) for review.

    An AFR is due to TEA no later than 150 days after the close of a district’s fiscal year. The following table shows the due dates for different fiscal year calendars.

    If a district’s fiscal year ends on:

    then the AFR is due to TEA on or before:

    August 31

    January 28


    An LEA’s audited AFR must be approved by its board.



    Comments (-1)
  • December 11, 2018

    Posted by Business Center on 12/11/2018

    Update to HHSC ‘Third Party Liability for SHARS Interim Claims’

    TEA recently provided another notification of updates to information posted on the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) webpage regarding School Health and Related Services (SHARS). Previous notices were posted on May 21, 2018 and August 28, 2018. This notice provides detail for modified billing practices. The responsibility of school districts and open-enrollment charter schools regarding the modified billing policy is described in the recent TEA correspondence found at:  SHARS

    Comments (-1)