The latest hurdle may be money the district owes the State of Texas. The TEA sent a letter to the district telling administrators they overestimated their average daily enrollment, and as such, owe $1.4 million in overpayments by February 1.
La Marque is one of 35 districts that received the overpayments, which a TEA spokesperson says is not unusual. Neither is the fact that the money owed exceeds what La Marque would receive in payments this year.
What is unusual is that this comes on the heels of the state telling La Marque it wants to remove the Superintendent and board and replace them with an appointed board, because of failing financial accountability standards.
La Marque has appealed and the state will reconsider. But that could be a formality and the district could operate under state control by the end of the school year.
The district issued the following statement:
- "During the past years, La Marque Independent School District has been working diligently to improve its financial status. Two years ago, the district had approximately $401,264 in unassigned fund balance with 6 days of operating expenses. Currently, the district has projected to have approximately $4.3 million in preliminary unassigned fund balance, which represents 94 days of operating expenditures (best practice is to have fund balance between 60 to 90 days of operations).
In regards to the funds due to the state, La Marque ISD has reserved these funds from its cash flow. This payment will be paid to the state as required which it is standard for school districts when facing a funds settlement. It is important to highlight that the district fund balance is approximately $4.3 million after taking into account this payment. La Marque ISD has planned to meet this requirement and accounted for all funds in accordance with applicable accounting standards. Moving forward to FY 2016, the district has projected a lower enrollment, but it remains cognizant of possible further reduction in enrollment and it will take the necessary steps to amend its budget if needed. Finally, it is important to emphasize that student enrollment at La Marque ISD has been stable in comparison with last year, and our staff and students are focused on having a successful year."