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Tioga ISD re-evaluates fiscal years

Tioga ISD re-evaulates fiscal years
Kaitlyn Garrison, left, Lizbeth Fraire, Alivia Hall, Blakely Arroyo, Maria Colmenares and Amelia Strittmatter flank their Principal Keith Kirkland at the Monday Tioga ISD school board meeting. The students were recognized for their success at the State Theater Design Competion.

By Abigail Allen

Editor & Publisher

       Tioga ISD will need to have its auditor re-evaluate the audits from two previous fiscal years in addition to the upcoming 2024 audit.

       Superintendent Josh Ballinger recommended that the firm of Hankins, Eastup, Deaton, Tonn, Seay & Scarborough for the work.

       “We’ve worked with these guys in the past, and they’ve done a really good job,” Ballinger said. “Through conversations over the last couple of years, we’ve found out that we could eventually have to redo ’21 and ’22. That has come. Dr. [Karen] Wiesman has more information on that.”

       Trustee Brandon Miller asked whether the district needs to disclose the reason for the re-evaluation, which will cost about $57,000 in addition to roughly $38,000 for 2024.

       “The reason we have to give the notice is not because of the unqualified opinion, it’s because a [former] board member audited for these years’ reports,” Miller said. “That’s the reason.”

Tioga ISD re-evaluates fiscal years

       The superintendent also gave an update about the preparation to move forward with the bond approved by the voters in the May 4 election.

       BOK Financial has expressed a desire to serve as the underwriter for the bond sale, which David Webb with Stifel is helping the district navigate.

       “Our financial adviser and that company has to be separate from the actual company writing up the deal,” Ballinger said. “It’s all in place to protect the school.”

       The district is hoping to have the backing of the Permanent School Fund or some other form of insurance to help keep the interest rates for repaying the debt down.

       “I can’t believe TEA would force us to call a bond election, we do that, pass it and then they say, ‘Sorry, that’s still not good enough,’” board Vice President Dallas Slay said.

       “David’s still holding out hope,” Ballinger said. “... [The permanent school fund is] a very safe way to invest. Y’all know that. They’re backed, so no one’s going to lose their money, so the rate’s better.”

       Ballinger updated the board on the bus grant the district applied for through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

       “I had very much optimistic feelings on one bus,” Ballinger said. “I knew the other one was a long shot because we kind of let the registration lapse on it and hadn’t been using it much lately.”

       He has appealed the decision, specifically on the bus that was broken down during the period in which it needed to be inspected.

       “We took it within two weeks to get inspected and registered, and that’s what denied the grant,” Ballinger said. “Yes, that was a $200,000 hiccup that we could have possibly gotten that we’ll have to find alternative methods to get at least one more bus.”

        Miller questioned TCEQ’s reasoning.

Tioga ISD re-evaluates fiscal years

       “The whole point of this grant program is to get old, polluting buses off the road,” he said.

       The process also changed mid-process, trustee Trina Colteryahn said, and Ballinger confirmed.

       “If your goal is to get ... junkie school buses off of the highway from the dangerous aspects of them involving students, then at least hear us out,” he said. “And don’t just send a stock letter.”

       Because of the delay in ordering new buses, he added, finding a used option is likely the best plan.

       The district is set to get $150,000 in funding for school safety updates, the bulk of which will go into film for the ground-level windows and fencing needs, Ballinger said.

      He also let the board and public know that the district’s participation in the Grayson County Special Education Coop will be increasing in price by about $50,000 because other districts have opted out of participation.


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