Board Oversight of School Cash

By Charles K. Trainor

The cheerleading squad is selling sweatshirts to raise money for new uniforms. Third-graders are selling pies to pay for a trip to the state capital. How will the cash be handled? How does the money get to the bank?

Office staff often are asked to process receipts for fundraising projects such as yearbooks, orchestra performances, field trips, cultural exchange trips, or school stores.

In addition, a district may operate its own herd of cash cows, such as breakfast or lunch programs, equipment rentals, or parking fees. Unfortunately, as headlines have shown, individuals will take advantage of weak internal controls and 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. Future fundraising efforts may be jeopardized, as donors will be reluctant to donate. In addition, publicity surrounding the loss may discredit the board and administration. 

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