District receives state transparency award

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Yvonnne Katz, vice chair and District 7 trustee, expresses her satisfaction about Palo Alto being able to make their own decisions on pilot programs March 24 at Killen Center.  Photo by Cynthia M. Herrera

Yvonne Katz, vice chair and District 7 trustee, expresses her satisfaction about Palo Alto being able to make their own decisions on pilot programs March 24 at Killen Center. Photo by Cynthia M. Herrera

The Alamo Colleges fulfilled all expectations in 23-point score sheet.

By Katherine Garcia

kgarcia203@student.alamo.edu

The Alamo Community College District was recognized for winning the Texas Comptroller Leadership Circle 2015 Platinum Award for transparency during the regular meeting of the board of trustees Tuesday in Killen Center.

Pamela Ansboury, associate vice chancellor of finance and fiscal services, said the original goal was to win the Gold Award, but when District 5 trustee Roberto Zarate asked “Why not Platinum,” the application was revised to meet the higher qualifications.

Snyder made a presentation at the Feb. 17 regular board meeting titled “Going for Gold” in which the district would apply for the gold award.

Ansboury said the check register was added to the website and the score sheet was updated to when Chancellor Bruce Leslie submitted it March 2.

Gathering the data for the submission was a collective effort of the district financial and fiscal services department, she said.

The district received notification of winning the award March 9, Cathy Obien, manager of fiscal services, said in a phone interview March 20.

Chris Bryan, spokesperson for the Texas comptroller’s office, said there are usually seven days scheduled for the review process.

According to the report, the comptroller’s office received it March 3.

The financial transparency report can be found at www.alamo.edu/district/fiscal-services/reports/.

Obien said that the district won the award because the district website included all the required information on the 23-point score sheet.

According to texastransparency.org, to win the Platinum Award, a community college district must meet all eight major criteria, all 11 minor criteria and all three debt criteria. The minimum criteria to win the Platinum Award is 21 points, or all four major criteria, at least nine minor criteria and all debt criteria.

The major criteria for the website includes an adopted budget and finance elements, an annual financial aid report, a record of checks made by the district and a financial transparency page or menu accessible in four or less page clicks.

Minor criteria includes information on local government contacts, public information requests, budgets for three fiscal years, annual financial reports for three fiscal years, check records for three fiscal years, searchable check records, descriptive check records, visual representation of financial data, current tax rates, financial stability chart(s) and a raw format budget.

Debt criteria includes debt information, a link to the state comptroller’s website, a bond election pledge.

Ansboury said to receive the full four points in the debt criteria, all three qualifications must be met.

Ansboury said the debt criteria is based on an “all or nothing” scale, meaning if even one of the three debt criteria are not met, then none of the four points will be awarded.

In this case, district would not qualify for the gold of platinum award, she said.

Obien said the page on the district web site titled “Financial Transparency” was made before the application was submitted, and the district began making the information available last year to meet the Texas Transparency Initiative’s list of best practices.

The Platinum Award designation lasts for one year, and district must resubmit a score sheet annually to re-qualify, Obien said in the email.

Dallas County Community College District is the only other district in the state to win the Platinum Award.

Bryan said five community college districts applied.

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