Texas Comptroller Susan Combs congratulated Liberty Hill ISD officials Wednesday for their success in combining high academic achievement with cost-effective operations. The results netted the school district the five-star rating, the highest rating, in the 2011 Financial Allocation Study for Texas (FAST).
FAST ratings are updated annually using the most recent data from the Texas Education Agency. This year new rankings were assigned to 1,237 school districts and charter schools. In the new report, 46 school districts received the highest rating of five stars. A five-star rating indicates strong academic progress and efficient financial management.
Despite significant enrollment growth (63 percent in 10 years), Liberty Hill ISD has achieved strong academic success while keeping personnel costs down. The 2011 FAST report shows the district ranked in the top 20 percent in the state for composite student academic progress. The district was also recently rated as Recognized by the Texas Education agency in 2011.
“Many school districts across the state are facing the tough challenge of educating more students with less funding,” Combs said. “But districts like Liberty Hill are efficiently using funds to maintain academic quality. I encourage districts to use our FAST report as a resource tool to compare their performance with similar districts and help make adjustments.”
The 2009 Texas Legislature mandated the Comptroller to create a method to fairly compare the state’s diverse school districts. When comparing district and campus spending, the FAST methodology groups districts and campuses into sets of “fiscal peers” that operate in similar cost environments, including factors such as regional wages, district size and student characteristics.
In addition to ratings for all Texas public school districts, campuses and charter schools, the FAST website at http://www.FASTEXAS.org offers examples of “Smart Practices” employed by school districts to achieve greater efficiency and enhance student performance. Smart Practices can be emulated by other districts, and they are also intended to spark new solutions to the cost of delivering a quality education.