Conflicts of Interest and School Boards
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 14,200 public school districts nationwide are expected to spend $519 billion this school year. When managing such large amounts of money, board members and administrators may be confronted with situations creating conflict of interest.
When Budget Cuts Loom
With a sluggish economy, reduced tax receipts, state payment reductions, and ballooning operating costs, school districts across the nation are under severe financial stress. Board members must take a hard look at all expenditures, including non-classroom-related costs such as staff travel and other expense account items.
Winning Back Alumni Parents
Alumni parents make up a substantial part of any school community and they wield much power, because they tend to be frequent voters. But do not count on this group of parents to support school bond referendums and tax elections. Alumni parents are often the least supportive of school tax increases.
Preventing School Employee Theft
The lyrics of the Johnny Cash classic “One Piece at a Time” tell how a Cadillac assembly line worker acquired the luxury car for free. He stole it -- one piece at a time. Unfortunately, the song’s concept is alive and well in school districts throughout the country.
Fueling the Need for Oversight
With gasoline and diesel fuel more than $4 per gallon, districts struggle under an increasing financial burden. And with increased financial pressures comes a higher risk for theft and abuse. Struggling providers or departments may cut corners or break laws to stay within budget, boost profits, or stave off bankruptcy.
Thwarting the Time Bandits
A variety of time and leave schemes are used to cheat districts, where salaries and benefits are the greatest expense. Some involve the manipulation of controls put in place to monitor actual hours worked. Others involve the payroll process, insurance fraud, ghost employees, and other unscrupulous behaviors. Board member oversight helps keep time bandits away.
Keeping Tabs on Your School Booster Clubs
Booster clubs can support a wide range of needs or target specific activities such as performing arts, academics, or athletics. Whatever the focus, it's clear that many districts could not offer a complete educational experience without the extra efforts of these clubs and their volunteers. They are making a vital contribution in thousands of communities across the country.
EnergySmart Schools Save Money
The initial cost for EnergySmart Schools used to be significantly higher than for their traditional counterparts, but thanks to technology advances and integrated design practices, school districts enjoy paybacks in five to eight years as well as ongoing returns on their energy efficiency investments. The business case for an EnergySmart approach has become stronger than ever.
How Schools Can Use Social Networking
The rise of dozens of new voluntary communities, or social networks, is bringing us together in unique, technology-driven ways. Could Facebook be a model for a 21st century purposeful student community designed for school improvement? Possibly. But evidence suggests that education is not prepared to accept the dimension of purposeful communities offered by social networks.
The Smart Approach to Technology Purchases
How can a school board have confidence that it's making a good decision when asked to approve the purchase of new technology? It begins by putting less focus on the upfront price tag. The smart buy isn't always the cheapest, and it isn't a vendor discount or low bid that guarantees a district the best "bang for its buck."
Doing the Public's Bidding
School districts in the United States spend almost $500 billion each year. Most states have bidding laws designed to provide protection for districts so that quality materials can be purchased at competitive prices. Unfortunately, sometimes these systems can be manipulated or bypassed. Board members must be aware of how the bidding process can be undermined.
How Can Schools Cope with Base Re-Alignments?
Districts are feeling the effects of a massive redeployment of U.S. military troops. A score of military installations are closing and others are shrinking as personnel transfer to other facilities. Like it or not, when the Pentagon says a military installation is growing or shrinking, school officials can do little but salute--and make plans to get ready.
Getting Your Schools Through Tough Budget Times
So what do you do in uncertain financial times? What's your game plan? How do you avoid missteps? While there is no blueprint for weathering a poor economy and budget shortfalls, there are common practices used by those most in the know: the financially strapped. Read these tips from districts weathering the current financial storm.
Use School Business Managers as Budget Allies
The bottom line—the balance that remains after all revenue is accounted for and all expenses are paid—shows a school district's fiscal status. But business managers should consider an equally important bottom line: a balance sheet that shows how budget decisions improved achievement for all students.
How the Mortgage Crisis Is Affecting School Budgets
August 2007 marked the beginning of the seemingly never-ending saga of the sub-prime mortgage debacle. What went wrong with the housing market? And what does all of this have to do with school boards? Plenty.
How to Find The Right Auditor
In recent years, accounting fraud in America has been under intense scrutiny. Unfortunately, school districts are not immune to this ailment. School districts, like all governmental entities, must have financial statements evaluated by external auditors. Accurate statements are critical as they provide a record of past and current business activities and agencies use them to determine a district's financial health.
Making Sure Construction Projects Go as Planned
Providing oversight for a school's construction or expansion is a daunting challenge for most board members. In an effort to improve the bottom line, contractors may take shortcuts, not hire qualified workers, or allow fraudulent practices. This results in significant hazards for children. And it presents a particular risk for school districts. Can these dangerous and expensive problems be avoided?
Are Your Schools Properly Insured?
The start of a new calendar year is the perfect time to assess your district’s risks. When districts fail to identify risks and provide protection for children and taxpayers, everyone loses. So, how can you protect your district? One way to mitigate risk is to purchase insurance. Insurance can address many risks. School boards must become familiar with these insurance opportunities and the protections they provide.