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Real talk about money and the importance of stewardship

January 21, 2022

A Message from the Superintendent

Serving as the superintendent of Greenville ISD is an honor that I do not take for granted. Greenville is a community that is rich in traditions, history and pride, and during the last five years in which I have had the privilege of serving on the GISD leadership team, I have been inspired to see that sense of pride continue to flourish.

In today’s real talk letter to the community, I want to focus on the commitment that the Board of Trustees and I have to managing taxpayers’ dollars with care and transparency. I am proud to report that GISD is in excellent financial health. We have a balanced budget, an A financial rating from the state, top ratings from Moody’s, and a AAA bond rating.

The GISD budget for 2021-22 is $50.5 million, more than 80 percent of which is devoted to paying our teachers and staff. The district has a healthy fund balance that ensures fund availability in case of emergencies.

As you may know, the Board of Trustees is considering calling a bond issue for May. A detailed bond issue proposal was presented during the Jan. 18 board meeting by Citizens Advisory Committee co-chairs John Kelso and Sonya Cathey, who represent a large committee of parents, grandparents, campus staff, community members, business owners, church leaders, and others. The committee met six times over the last several months to study and evaluate current and future needs and to develop a plan to address growth and facilities in support of quality education for our students. You can find the details here. A vote on the proposal is expected at the Feb. 15 School Board meeting. I would describe the proposal as a nuts-and-bolts plan that focuses on renovating and replacing aging facilities and expanding learning opportunities for students. If the Board decides to call a bond election, every detail of proposed spending will be covered in future communications.

It is natural that whenever there is a discussion around issuing bonds, our community properly demands increased scrutiny regarding money and taxes. In the case of GISD, there have been questions dating back to 2014. Although I did not arrive in GISD until 2017, I will attempt to reconstruct that history based on information available to me.

Looking back in history, GISD voters passed a bond in 2014 that paid for the projects listed in the chart below:

2014 Bond Projects

All those projects are completed, and the expenditures are listed in detail in this report.

During the 2017-18 school year, GISD faced a serious budget crisis. There was a $3.8 million shortfall resulting from poor financial management in previous years. The shortfall occurred in the general budget that pays for day-to-day operations. Those funds are completely separate from bond funds.

Both the School Board and the new superintendent, who started in 2017, were committed to finding out what went wrong and how to correct the errors that led to the problems initially. Personnel changes occurred in the Finance Department and the Human Resources Department, where practices had come into question.

Two audits were conducted:

  1. Texas Association of School Business Officials completed a 52-page procedural audit that detailed the problems in the Finance and Human Resources Departments. GISD released the audit and followed its recommendations, which included additional changes in key personnel.
  2. In the spirit of transparency, GISD hired a forensic auditor to conduct an in-depth look at finances dating back several years. During a public forum, the auditor reported concerns with the actions and financial practices of the previous administration. On April 17, then-superintendent Dr. Demetrus Liggins presented the forensic audit report to Hunt County District Attorney Noble D. Walker. After reviewing the documents, Mr. Walker decided to avoid any potential conflicts of interest in carrying out the criminal investigation and requested that the Texas Attorney General’s Office conduct the investigation and go forward with the prosecution of any former or current employees of GISD alleged to have participated in instances of theft, fraud, or misconduct. The forensic audit was forwarded to the Attorney General’s Office. Several criminal investigations were conducted as a result, and two former GISD employees (Tevin Brookins and Ralph Sanders) were charged with theft. Brookins served time in jail, and Sanders was ordered by the court to pay restitutions.

There have been several public information requests filed for release of the forensic audit. I want to go on record here: As superintendent of GISD, I fully support the release of the forensic audit. Every one of GISD’s trustees also fully supports the release of the forensic audit. However, we are bound by law to follow the directive of the Attorney General, whose office has ruled that the audit should not be released because of pending criminal investigations. The District called the Attorney General’s office on January 19, 2022 to request that the forensic audit be released; we were told that officials would review the status of their work and provide us with an update by the end of the month.

You also have our word that we will continue on the same path of conservative fiscal stewardship that we have been on for the last five years.

If you have any questions, please email