Improving the System: Faster Carryover & Improved Financial Communication
In Douglas County our schools have the ability to carry over unspent resources into the next fiscal year but until recently, those funds were not available until November.
“By waiting until November, half of the school year was completed,” explained Budget Director Scott Smith.“While schools have always been able to budget their carry over before it was allocated back to them, the schools couldn’t be 100% confident in their final carry over amounts until the calculations were made.”
The Budget team was determined to change this. This school year, they improved forecasting and reporting, so that schools have access to their carryover in September, two months earlier than normal.
Additionally the Budget team has been working to make their reports easier to understand.
For principals, they designed reports that were easier to read, allowing the principals to focus on what matters most.
“It is enabling them to deliver a World-Class education,” Smith explained. “We provided them a customizedsummary report or a quick snap shot of their financials, so they can get a good understanding of where they stand in minutes. This allows them to put their focus back where it should be, which is educating our kids—not spending their time trying to digest reports out of our financial system. We also meet with our schools in their buildings to provide them one-on-one budget support at their request without them having to come to us.”
“The challenge is that school finance is incredibly complex, so not only do we need to get the message out, but we also need to make it digestible to the taxpayer in Douglas County, who is probably not a school finance expert,” Smith explained. “We want it to make sense to them on a level that explains the details, but doesn’t go so far into the weeds that it loses all meaning.”