By Chris McGuinness

Killeen Daily Herald

Attendees at the Killeen Independent School District's Board of Trustees regular meeting Tuesday received a closer look at the state of the district's finances, as officials publicly reviewed a report from the Texas Education Agency.

The report is part of the state mandated Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas, or FIRST, which uses specific criteria to rate district's financial health.

For the 2009-10 fiscal year, the district received a "superior" rating, the highest rating possible under the system. The district received the same rating for the 2008-09 school year.

KISD was one of the 784 districts out of 1,029 in the state to receive the superior rating, according to the agency's data.

The system rates districts based on 22 criteria, including the total fund balances, audit results, academic ratings and internal financial controls.

Megan Bradley, the district's chief financial officer, said the district met 20 of the 22 criteria for FIRST.

"It's a good report, and (KISD) continues to do well reporting its financial data," said Bradley.

According to the report, the district did not meet the criteria for the ratio of total staff to students. The agency required a ratio of at least seven staff per student, but KISD only had 6.8. The district did not meet this criteria in 2008-09 either.

KISD also did not meet criteria that states the district's investment earnings have a return of more than $20 per student. The report states that the return was just $12.23 per student. This number was down from the $62.79 per student reported for the 2008-09 fiscal year.

Bradley said the poor state of the economy and low interest rates were partially to blame for the drop, but said the district should continue to stick with "safe" investments.

"I'd rather take a loss here than have to pull from other important areas," said Bradley.

State law requires the district to present the report at a public meeting and allow public comments.

After her presentation, board president Ronald Rainosek opened the floor to anyone who wished to speak about the report. There were no takers.

Copies of the report were passed out to the trustees and those in the audience. Bradley said the report also would be placed on KISD's website.

In addition to the presentation by Bradley, the trustees voted to approve a trip to Germany for the Harker Heights High School Choir in 2013, and to spend $74,000 to expand the Texas Instruments Algebra Readiness Program.

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