When the Texas Association of School Business Officials (TASBO) announced its prestigious Award of Merit for Purchasing Operations, Abilene ISD Director of Purchasing Lisa Metcalf was excited to see the purchasing team she leads rewarded for its work.

Abilene ISD was one of 77 school districts across Texas honored last month for following best practices in purchasing operations. This year’s recipients will be recognized at an awards reception sponsored by BuyBoard Purchasing Cooperative in Houston on Feb. 21 during the TASBO annual conference.

The Award of Merit was established in 2009 to recognize Texas school districts, open-enrollment charter schools, and education services centers committed to following professional standards in purchasing goods and services. Volunteers with the TASBO Purchasing & Supply Management Research Committee evaluate the award criteria to ensure they represent the latest best practices. They then review new and recertification applications. 

Only 77 districts met the stringent criteria to qualify for the award in 2024, including Abilene and Midland, the only two West Texas districts on the list.

“Receiving the TASBO Award of Merit for Purchasing Operations has been a long-time goal for us in AISD, but usually due to timing with other district projects, it was not feasible to expend the time to address and gather all the documents for TASBO review and consideration,” Metcalf said. “There’s a large amount of work and effort that goes into applying for this award. The purchasing staff is very excited to receive this award and have the assurance that our district meets the standards to receive such an award.”

Now in her 28th year with the district and 25th in her director’s role, Metcalf knows the main job of the Purchasing Department is to assist district staff in as efficient and responsible a manner as possible.

“Our goal is and should always be to assist AISD staff regarding purchases to ensure everyone receives the items needed to serve the students, teachers, and staff, but also be compliant with state and federal procurement regulations,” Metcalf said. “Compliance is a word used regularly in school district finance and purchasing departments. Compliance with procurement regulations is extremely important because ‘Passing the audit with no findings’ is our report card as a district. Also, being good stewards of taxpayer money and getting the best value for the district is extremely important.”

Metcalf and her team, however, won’t celebrate the award for too long because the orders never stop flowing through their office.

“The AISD purchasing staff is an outstanding group of ladies that do an incredible job every single day,” Metcalf said. “Although these ladies are behind the scenes and out of the spotlight most of the time, they are doing ‘big’ things for Abilene ISD every day. And it’s because of this team that we received this award. We can relish a bit in the excitement but not too long because it’s business as usual very quickly.”