How many of us think about the engines under the hoods of the cars we drive every day? Sure, there are gearheads and enthusiasts who are fascinated with the mechanical details and specifications but I would bet most of us don’t give much thought about these machines we rely on to get us where we’re going. If things are going well, our engines keep us moving with little effort on our part. Today’s engines can alert you to tend to routine maintenance or give you a heads up that something is about to go desperately, expensively wrong; heck, the engine in my car tells me when I’m not driving as efficiently as I could be!
In business and industry, you might consider the accounting, budgeting, financial reporting, and purchasing functions (“business services”) to be the engine that keeps the organization moving forward and on track. And, like our trusty “rides,” these employees keep the business of the business running smoothly day in and day out with little thought from those of us outside the department. But the deliverables from these departments are criticial to the efficient function of the organization. Their annual budgets set the course for the year and their financial reports serve as the monthly and yearly analysis of the organization’s performance against those budgets.
The same holds true in a school system.
When we talk about schools, we naturally think of the students and teachers but there are whole teams of people who support the work in the classroom. At Cecil County Public Schools, one of those teams is the business services department. And, again this year, the work of this team has been recognized for excellence in financial reporting and governmental budgeting.
For the 12th consecutive year, the CCPS business services department has achieved the Government Finance Officers Association’s (GFOA) Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting and the Association of School Business Officials’ (ASBO) Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting. This year’s recognition was for the CCPS Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014. In order to be awarded a Certificate of Excellence from these two organizations, a school system must publish an easily readable and efficiently organized Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). The report must satisfy both generally accepted accounting principles and applicable legal requirements and the individual program standards.
For the 4th consecutive year, the CCPS business services department has earned the GFOA Distinguished Budget Presentation Award and the ASBO Meritorious Budget Award. This recognition was for the 2014-2015 budget. In order to receive these awards, a school system must publish a budget document that meets program criteria as a policy document, as an operations guide, as a financial plan, and as a communications tool.
I’ve spent a lot of “quality time” with the financial reports the business service department publishes and refer to them often when writing. If you are interested in the performance of the school system and its plans for the future, the documents on the Budget page of the CCPS website are a great place to start. And during the fiscal year, you can check the board of education section of the website for monthly financial reports.
Congratulations to the CCPS business services team for continuing the school system’s tradition of fiscal transparency.