President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” It is safe to say a bookkeeper might be most knowledgeable about the ins-and-outs of the school district she maintains; and the public should be interested to know how much she cares—it’s a lot, to say the least. 

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The season’s peak is marked by the final school budget approval (for the upcoming year). In tandem with the superintendent, the bookkeeper works continually through the school year into the busiest month, June, to reap rewards like vacation and relaxation in July. 

A school district’s bookkeeping department works year-round. (And it has more to do with reasons unbeknownst to most of the general public.) Small school districts tend to have a one-person department who is responsible for the overall health and prosperity of the school district. A bookkeeper maintains order and balance to ensure productivity and development can remain a focus in plans and approaches. Discussed further are parts of the bookkeeper’s job; information she must know. 

Every public school district relies heavily on funds. Funds are appropriated through: federal programs, state programs, taxes, county revenues, fundraisers, and donations.  

Small school districts have a limited budget and depend on accurate information and positive outcomes. (Limited in that budgets must be strategic and efficient.) 

Federal programs reimburse the most amount of money per student. For example, the Free and Reduced Lunch program yields the most return. In theory, the higher the percentage of students who receive this benefit, the higher the reimbursement a district receives. It seems advantageous to maximize this benefit.  

Projected state revenues, though limited, remain of utmost importance in a school district’s budget. A school’s enrollment and average-daily-attendance, the measured data points, influence reimbursement greatly particularly in small school districts. 

The MO-SIS (Missouri Student Information System), requires data recorded in a school district’s own separate electronic system. Information requested are things like: enrollment, attendance, transfers (in and out of school) and types of subjects high schoolers take. 

However, some information required should be further explored. For example, what is the reason a school district reveal who of the males and females in fifth, seventh, and ninth grades passed or failed physical fitness? Why only those grades? What value does this information provide to the state? 

Taxes are another means to raise funds. Tax money is distributed appropriately but not always proportionately. For instance, a school district’s assessed evaluations are highly influenced by tax revenues. Things like personal taxes and property taxes affect a school district’s budget. This means the more tax funds a community generates the higher the rewards for the school district. 

County revenues are a source of income, too. Gains obtained from fines and forfeitures as well as railroads and utilities (i.e. electric companies) play a part in a school district’s budget. 

Small school districts must consider this: if one source of high revenue is reduced or lost, supplementation should be a focus because the district’s viability depends on it. 

Once a school receives money, where does it go? There are four main funds: General Operations Fund, Teacher Fund, Debt-Service Fund and Capital Projects Fund. 

The first two funds, Daily Operations Fund and Teacher Fund, are self-explanatory and can only be used for those particular needs. 

The Debt Service Fund, known as Fund 3, can produce money for a school district to use exclusively on a bond issue that passes, and can only be applied to pay off bond debts. Bond issues are specific to each school and are suggested as needed. 

Without bond issues it would prove difficult for a bookkeeper to maintain a healthy school district; with this source of nutrition absent, the school suffers as big projects and improvements cannot come to fruition. 

Taxes are a necessary evil; no one wants to pay but they are part of our civic duty. The next time you see a bond issue do not assume there will be a tax increase. If a school district has “good debt” (can pay what is borrowed) then a no-tax increase can be part of the bond issue

Fund 4, Capital Projects Fund, is reserved for things like: improvements, construction of new buildings, purchase of large equipment and large renovation projects. Funds in this category are specifically for these big ventures. For example, if Fund 2, Teacher Fund, needs more money it cannot borrow money from Fund 4. 

To a school district, especially a small one, healthiness can be a challenge due to different inconsistent variables. Yet, without order and balance, and money, progress and success are not be attainable (as evidence has shown throughout history). Neglect inevitably will show, ignorance of safety can transpire and lack-of innovation can keep a school district, unintentionally, in the dark ages. And the ones who suffer the most are the ones who should be considered first, always—the student population.