FISD, CCISD earn 5-star rating

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Both Friendswood and Clear Creek ISDs received the highest rating of five stars from the TXSmartSchools program. This is the highest 2016 rating and both districts were one of only 26 public school districts statewide to achieve the five-star Smart Score.

This score reflects the strongest relative academic progress combined with the lowest relative spending.

The new Texas Smart Schools initiative replaces the state-led Financial Allocation Study for Texas (FAST), which was founded by former Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Susan Combs. Replacing her Financial Allocation Study, TXSmartSchools identifies effective, efficient Smart Schools that show maximum student performance in return for each taxpayer dollar.

Now housed at Texans for Positive Economic Policy and administered by Texas A&M University in College Station, the initiative becomes an online resource for parents to assess the quality of education their children are receiving compared to its cost.

To be fair when comparing the 1,031 school districts in the state, the study evaluated each district and campus against others identified as fiscal peers. These peers would operate in a similar cost environment using the comparable wage index, be of similar district size and serve similar student demographics.

Friendswood ISD is one of only three public school districts to earn the highest possible rating in all six years of the FAST and TXSmartSchools programs.

“Despite the challenges of the current state funding system, I am glad the District continues to be recognized as one of the state’s most effective and efficient school districts regardless of the one conducting the study or various criteria used,” Superintendent Trish Hanks said. “It is a reflection of the district’s motto, ‘Lead to Achieve Excellence in All Endeavors.’”

FISD’s 2016-2017 operating budget of $47.9 million was approved by the School Board in July. The district has six campuses with a total student population of approximately 6,100.

CCISD Board of Trustees recently approved the 2016-2017 operating budget of $325,820,668 to serve the educational needs of more than 41,600 students in the 29th largest district in the state.

“This budget is a reflection of the funding priorities of this community,” Superintendent Greg Smith said. “We spent months listening and learning from teachers, parents and business leaders as to what they see as our needs and gaps in the area of funding. With their input and the support of our school board, we continue to put more than 87 percent of our entire budget towards our human capital, our teachers and staff.”

“Public education is one of the largest items in the state budget, so Texans need to know where their dollars are getting the highest return in terms of student performance,” former Comptroller Combs, a longtime transparency advocate, said. “With this platform, parents can find out which schools are beating expectations and educators can find peers whose success makes them worth emulating. It’s truly an initiative that lends itself to the common good.”

Friendswood and Clear Creek ISDs are the only two districts in Galveston County to receive the five-star rating.

For more information about TxSmartSchools, go to http://www.txsmartschools.org/.

Story by Karolyn Gephart

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