Board Oversight of School Cash
A district may operate its own herd of cash cows, such as breakfast or lunch programs, equipment rentals, or parking fees. Individuals will steal from these cash producers. The consequences of these incidents go far beyond monetary loss, because the aura of safety and trust within a school community is shattered.
Overseeing School Food Service
During these difficult economic times, school districts have seen a dramatic increase in the demand for free and reduced-price meals for children. But whether federal taxes or parents pay the bill, there is no free lunch. Unless you provide oversight, theft and fraudulent practices may place your district at risk.
The Moving Target Budget
At a time when districts are being held to more rigorous standards, they need stable financial support. When funding seems reduced to a game of chance, you need to change the odds. Taking steps to expand non-governmental funding sources will allow your district greater freedom to maintain quality offerings.
Liability for Bad Teachers
Educators naturally want to shelter their careers. Therefore, it is understandable that their unions lobby for legislation designed to protect them. Clearly, legal protection is necessary. However, these regulations and laws can sometimes pervert justice, preventing districts from responding to criminal behaviors by imposing appropriate penalties within reasonable time frames.
Becoming an Effective School Budget Steward
School boards all over the country have found their participation in preparing their district’s annual operating plan/budget to be an extremely frustrating experience, leading to the kind of dissatisfaction and irritation that can seriously erode the board-superintendent-senior administrator partnership. This need not be the case.
Keeping Stimulus Funds Under Control
The federal stimulus plan is expected to resuscitate our economy, but such a large, hastily developed, and complex program is inherently vulnerable to fraud, waste, and abuse. Twenty criminal probes already have been opened. It is likely that similar risks will accompany the federal spending plan targeting education.
School Boards and Vendor Oversight
Most vendors are reliable and honest, but some likely will take advantage of the lax controls over stimulus spending. Boards are familiar with the extensive process of evaluation, often referred to as vetting, that occurs prior to hiring new administrators. The same process can be adapted to contracting with district vendors.
Finding Money to Pay for Green Schools
Green schools save money –- we know that. However, green schools can be a hard sell to your community, particularly if they are more expensive to build or renovate than traditional schools. But thanks to better technologies and design practices, it now is possible to build high-performance schools at virtually no additional cost compared to traditionally constructed schools.
Florida's Economy Spells Trouble for Schools
It’s not a pretty story. A sinking Florida economy has severely curtailed education funding, leaving school boards with no choice but to make draconian cuts. These are not happy times for Volusia school officials. This past year, more than 800 jobs were eliminated, and the district’s rainy day fund spent.
The Cost-Conscious School Board
When searching to trim expenses, don’t overlook communication costs. You want to let your community know about the wonderful things happening in your district, but be sure that you are doing so in a cost-effective manner. Communication tools represent a significant expense. All of these can be reviewed for possible savings.
Michigan Schools Struggle in Downturn
At last the Pontiac School District has a cohesive school board capable of making tough decisions. But whether or not the district survives depends on more than a resolute board; it depends on how well Michigan can weather one of the worst financial crises in the nation’s history.
California Districts Face Grim Budget Times
In the midst of a recession that surely will go down as one of the worst financial crises in U.S. history, California is leading the pack. For California’s school districts, already accustomed to doing more with less, the question becomes: How much more can we take?
School leaders working to approve budgets over the next several months face a menu of hard choices in addition to layoff: furloughs, early closures, and reductions in funding programs. For this month’s issue, ASBJ’s editors visited struggling school districts in three of the nation’s hardest-hit states: California, Florida, and Michigan.
School Leadership in Budget Cuts
Given the current economic climate, local districts will face the difficult task of reducing expenditures proportionately. Cost reductions will start with measures least disruptive to core educational goals, but you may have to make difficult choices about personnel and fringe benefits. Expect a strong, negative response from everyone concerned.
How to Deal with Your District's Bad Debt
When budgetary demands rise, state aid is reduced, and interest rates are extremely low, school districts may be tempted to abandon their investment policies to increase earnings. This may have been the case when five Wisconsin districts facing severe financial pressures in 2006 were presented with a seemingly ideal opportunity.
Managing School Money in a Down Market
If districts are to protect the educational integrity of programs in difficult financial times, they must ask their communities for the ability to adequately reserve funds. In jurisdictions with unrealistically low reserve allowances, political action is needed. An appropriate fund balance is essential for the fiscal stability of your district.