HISD Earns National Award for Excellence in Financial Management
No other district in America met tough maximum efficiency standards
The leader of the Council of the Great City Schools visited Houston on Monday to present HISD with the prestigious Award for Excellence in Financial Management.
Michael Casserly, executive director of the coalition representing America’s big-city school districts, said the award speaks well of the Houston Independent School District’s efficiency under Superintendent Terry Grier.
“This is a significant achievement by the Houston Board of Education, the superintendent and the entire administrative staff whose efforts demonstrate outstanding stewardship of taxpayer dollars,” Casserly said. “And ultimately, the schoolchildren are the beneficiaries.”
The only other school district in America to win the award was Florida’s Broward County Public Schools in 2008.
To qualify for the award, HISD hosted a panel of senior financial executives from some of the nation’s largest school systems, who assessed the district’s management practices. Areas they reviewed included finance and budget, business services, human resources, and information technology. To earn the award, HISD had to comply with 94 “mandatory” practices and at least 32 of 42 “recommended” practices of 136 management practices across a broad range of areas – from management structures to internal and external auditing.
The announcement comes just days after the HISD Board of Education approved an annual budget that accounted for an expected $78 million cut in state funding with no need for a property tax rate increase. HISD already boasts the lowest tax rate of any Harris County school district, plus a rare additional 20 percent homestead exemption.
“Even with the cuts, we still managed to find $1.75 million for a much-needed literacy initiative and $900,000 to expand access to important Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and SAT testing for all students,” said Paula Harris, president of the HISD Board of Education. “We couldn’t have done that without strong financial planning.”
Jeff Moseley, CEO and president of the Greater Houston Partnership, praised HISD’s efforts to run a cost-effective operation.
“As a non-profit, the Greater Houston Partnership fully understands the responsibility of being a good steward,” Moseley said. “GHP commends Superintendent Terry Grier and his team for the tremendous job they are doing to guarantee that people’s hard-earned tax dollars aren’t wasted.”
Dr. Grier credited HISD’s Finance Department, headed by Chief Financial Officer Melinda Garrett, and Business Operations Department, led by Chief Operating Officer Leo Bobadilla, for their hard work on behalf of children and taxpayers.
“It is because of our strong Central Administration team that our principals and teachers are able to focus on what matters most: preparing Houston’s young people for college,” Dr. Grier said. “Because Melinda’s and Leo’s folks do their job so well, our principals don’t have to worry about whether they will have the resources they need to operate their schools.”