Dallas ISD Adds $35 Million to Emergency Reserve Fund, Which Is Now at "All-Time High"

Shortly after the ad hoc committee met to discuss closing those 11 schools yesterday, Dallas Independent School District trustees gathered to receive the district's latest audit, which shows a fund balance of $135 million -- meaning, the district has added close to $100 million to its emergency reserves over the last two years, as the extremely easy-to-read chart at right shows. It's still below what the district would like to keep in its reserves -- $150 million -- but it's far better than the $37 million to which the fund plummeted during the fiscal disaster of 2008.

As DISD spokesman Dahlander reminds Unfair Park, "Had action not been taken" back in '08, "the district could have zeroed out and been considered insolvent." You may recall: Last year, on his way out the door, Michael Hinojosa proudly a $54-million budget surplus for the 2009-'10 school year, which was way over the projected $31 million in savings. And even was more found and added to the fund later.

Says the district now, the $135-million figure puts the emergency reserves at "an all-time high," which is just as well: "Having $135 million available in the fund balance puts the district in a better position as it prepares for another decrease in funding from the state for the upcoming school year," says Interim Superintendent Alan King in the release that follows in full. Because, keep in mind, one of the reason the district's looking to close (pardon, "consolidate") those 11 campuses is because it expects to receive somewhere between $30 to $38 million less from the state for next school year -- following this year's $63-million kick in the pants.

No Material Weaknesses Reported by Deloitte and Touche for Second Consecutive Year

DALLAS- Dallas ISD's financial condition made more progress during the 2010-11 school year by adding another $35 million to its fund balance.

As of June 30, 2011, the district's fund balance stood at $135,098,259, representing an all-time high and an increase of nearly $100 million during the last two years. The preliminary report also indicated that, for the second year in a row, the district has no material weaknesses in its financial operations, down from as many as eight just four years ago.

"The district has made marked improvement in the way it handles its finances during the course of the last three years," said Dallas ISD Interim Superintendent Alan King, who also serves as the district's chief financial officer. "Having $135 million available in the fund balance puts the district in a better position as it prepares for another decrease in funding from the state for the upcoming school year."

Adding nearly $100 million to the fund balance during a two-year period is significant for the district, particularly given cuts to public education by the state legislature during the spring. Dallas ISD received $63 million less from the state to operate schools during the 2011-12 school year. The district will receive an additional $30 million less during the 2012-13 school year.

"Make no mistake -- there will still need to be cuts," said King. "At the same time, the state's financial picture has not improved considerably so it appears public education may be facing even more fiscal challenges during the next legislative biennium."

Four years ago, external auditor Deloitte and Touche identified eight material weaknesses in Dallas ISD's financial operations, including poor internal controls that caused a $59 million shortfall during 2007-08. For the second consecutive year, there were no material weaknesses in the district's financial operations reported. The total number of material weakness and deficiencies declined again in 2010-11, down to 8 from a high of 36 in 2007-08.

"Considerable energy has been put forth by the board of trustees and district staff in making significant improvements to Dallas ISD's financial structure," said King. "It will always be a work in progress but the district now has implemented financial controls that position it well for the long-term future."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky