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LA JOYA — The La Joya Independent School District discussed their 2009 Financial Integrity Rating at a recent board meeting.

The rating system was developed in 2000 and has 21 standards for evaluating a school district’s financial condition. The standards assess the fund balance, asset balance, debts, when reports were filed, clean audit, tax collection rate, district’s academic rating, expenditures per student, cash, investments, administrative costs, ratio of students to teachers, earnings, and other financial related issues.

LJISD received a superior achievement rating for the year ending Aug. 31, 2009.

The school board also discussed their plan to improve the academic rating of Evangelina Garza Elementary. Garza Elementary is the only school in the district that received an unacceptable rating because of test scores.

Principal Jose Garcia presented a plan that includes targeting reading and math. The goal is to not just meet the requirements needed for an accepted campus, but receive a recognized or exemplary status, he said.

Personnel at the school are working with a Texas Education Agency who suggested the school target reading, but since the math scores were low as well, math will be included.

Last year the school scored a 58 in reading and a 56 in math. To reach an acceptable rating, the school district needed a 70 in reading and a 60 in math. This year, the acceptable score is 65 for math.

Maggie Palacios, a TEA representative, and Garcia are working with each other and with the teachers at the school to make sure all needs are met and goals are achieved.

The school has set goals for the next two years, with an emphasis of reaching recognized status this year.

All reports and progress reports will be submitted to TEA. TEA will assess the progress or lack of and take further action if needed if there is no sustainable change or improvement.

The school board approved the plans presented by Palacios and Garza and board members said they want to make an effort in reaching the students that need the most help in achieving these goals.

Reading continues to be an issue for a number of LJISD students, according to a reading diagnostic test performed last year. There are still 225 seventh-graders who do not meet all reading goals. School board members Espie Ochoa, Irene Garcia and Superintendent Dr. Alda T. Benavides said they want to make sure intervention is taking place at the campuses to increase the reading skills of these students.

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