Financial management means applying general management principles to financial resources of the Charter. This encompasses planning, organizing, budgeting, directing and controlling the financial activities such as procurement and utilization of funds.
Charter School Success assists our clients with Budget, Month End Reporting, and Audit Preparation. Our finance experts are also here to help with Accounting and Bookkeeping, Purchasing, Accounts Payable and more!
The responsibility for financial management of each charter school rests with the local school board, the superintendent, and the charter’s finance department. However, the charter’s financial management is also regulated by state and federal law. Charters must follow uniform guidelines for budgeting, accounting, and financial reporting practices. These guidelines ensure consistent and comparable data for each of the state’s charter schools. An independent auditor will audit the charter’s financial records annually for compliance with laws and regulations, general accounting practices, and adequate internal controls.
The finance department of any charter not only has to plan, procure and utilize funds, but must also exercise control over finances. This can be done through many financial management techniques.
Policies and Procedures
Each departmental director or campus principal, along with a charter’s finance department, is responsible for ensuring internal controls are established throughout their department/campus and that all district procedures and policies are implemented. The Financial Department will periodically review and update written internal control processes and procedures. Departmental directors and campus principals in the charter, along with the financial management department, should perform on-going risk assessments of their area of supervision to ensure that internal controls and charter practices and policies are sufficient to protect the assets of the District and prevent fraudulent activity.
Planning, Forecasting and Reporting
The financial management aspect of planning involves accurately forecasting the charter’s revenues, expenses and cash flow. The charter will use this forecast – usually called a budget – as a tool to manage the charter’s day-to-day activities. Significant negative or positive variances to the estimated budget could indicate that the charter’s day-to-day performance is not in line with the initial assumptions of the budget when the charter created the annual plan. Analyzing these variances focuses the charter’s attention on changes that may need to be addressed in order to get strategies or operations back on course to reach the charter’s goals.
The school finance management system —with its budgeting, accounting, and auditing sub-systems— is designed to support the operation and improvement of public education. When a charter’s budget is aligned to the needs and programs of the school and when the accounting structure is clear and well-constructed to reflect the way money is collected and expensed; and when the auditing process determines that money was managed legally and appropriately, then a charter should have the tools to use funds effectively, efficiently, and productively.
The legally adopted budget is to be amended by the board of trustees prior to incurring an expenditure that would cause year-to-date actual expenditures at the Fund Code and Function Code level to exceed amounts authorized in the adopted budget for the current fiscal year or the amended adopted budget.
Charters follow competitive procurement requirements in state law and federal regulations, which are intended to ensure all purchases reflect the best value to serve the intended purposes for the products, goods and services, in addition to promoting fair and open competition.
Managing charter finances effectively requires a complicated series of day-to-day, monthly, and annual tasks administered by finance officers at the district level. From creating and balancing budgets, to managing contracts, paying vendors, and maintaining assets, all functions are geared toward aligning desired student outcomes with available resources.
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