Sealy ISD chief financial officer Jim Obermeier presented the 2016 Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) in front of the school board during their meeting on Dec. 20. The school district scored an 88/100 for the year which ranks above standard but still fell from the perfect score accomplished in 2015.
“We’ve always scored 100 but what happened this year was an accounting thing,” Superintendent Sheryl Moore said. “The [Tax Day] floods in 2016 cost us a million dollars to repair what was damaged and insurance covered it but auditors looked at it differently.”
The auditors did not count the money the school received from the insurance company to repair the damages as revenue. So on the books, Sealy ISD spent more than they brought in despite most of the spending being covered by insurance due to the flood.
“So we had an expense and the money to pay it back came in but they didn’t consider it revenue so that made it look like it was out of balance,” Moore said.
The other thing that harmed the district’s score was the current construction of the new elementary school due to open and enroll students next fall. The school had sold all the necessary bonds in order to build the school but since the school has not yet been built, it cannot be counted as an asset toward the school.
“We sold the bonds so we should have something that shows that we got something from them and since the building hasn’t completed construction yet, we don’t have that thing,” Moore said.
Moore said once students begin attending the school in the completed building, the financial rating will no longer be negatively affected by it. She went on to say the down rating, while still above standard, is not a cause for concern in the long term.
“Next year we should be back to 100 because this year was down due to the way accounting looks at insurance and they don’t count it as revenue and everything with the new school,” Moore said. “There were just some things that were out of our control so we expect to be back to where we were next year.”
Moore said the reasons above standard did not meet the Sealy ISD’s expectations is due to the work of Obermeier.
“Even with those two big things, Jim is wonderful and treats the money like it’s his own and he’s using it like it’s his retirement,” Moore said. “He is very judicious with our money and everything that happened this year are totally understandable and reasonable one-offs.”