One of the first steps to creating change in your district is to look at what practices the district currently employs, and scout out what (if any) other methods might help you achieve your goals faster. Allovue works with districts of all shapes and sizes, so we pulled together a list of district best practices in all areas of administration to give you what you need to know now!
1. Make financial management a habit
How often do you check your district’s account balances? To get ahead of spending, start tracking it. Set aside time each day to review your key accounts.
2. Create efficiencies for your staff where you can
One district struggled with tracking account balances. Implementing Balance allowed them to aggregate all of their account data in seconds, saving staff over 40 hours per month. “We are finally moving away from the days of outdated financial data and 500-page reports,” said District CFO TJ Vinci.
3. Find ways to look at data in aggregate
Using Balance or Excel, seeing your spending in aggregate can reveal small errors at the account or transaction level that could have been missed, resulting in needless discrepancies.
4. Implement a transparent funding model
Thinking of transitioning to a more transparent method of budgeting? Here are three to consider:
Site or School-Based Management (SBM) Site or School-Based Management occurs when administrators have some level of autonomy in the budgeting process. For more information on the case for SBM read, Who Has Control of Money In Schools.
Student-Based Budgeting (SBB) Student-based budgeting is a system where the funding available to a school is based on the overall enrollment of the school. One district switched from a centralized funding model to SBB, or SBA in their case (Student-Based Allocation). Read about their step-by-step process here.
Weighted Student Formula (WSF) A Weighted Student Formula is a student-based funding system where students are given funding in the form of a “weight.” This “weight’ is based on unique characteristics such as low-income status, ESL, or special education to ensure funding equity for all students across the district.
5. Streamline your chart of accounts to provide the financial information you need
Being able to track every dollar that directly contributes to student learning at a school site can provide valuable expenditure insights and help a district remain equitable. One district took this challenge head on, using Balance to revise their chart’s structure. Read on to find out how they’ve thrived.
6. Know how your funds are allocated
Being able to dynamically identify untapped or misallocated resources can provide opportunities to implement new programs. Using Balance, one district used previously untapped funds to pilot a summer enrichment program with academic and recreational programs for over 600 high-need elementary school students, including breakfast, lunch and dinner.
7. Involve stakeholders early and often
Create opportunities for community stakeholders to access more information with transparency to prevent straining the relationship between a district and the community. Within Balance, Evaluate creates school profiles that allow a district to communicate the important contextual information around school funding and performance for all schools across the district.
8. Get ESSA Ready
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was enacted to create more transparency and hold districts accountable by providing cost per student reports annually. Take Allovue’s survey to see if your district is ready to adopt ESSA standards, reveal any inadequacies and work towards building a solution.
9. Make finance a part of every conversation
Budget owners are most successful managing allocated funds when they make finance a point of conversation at every check-in with their staff. Only have the capacity to talk about finance once? Read about the most important financial check-point during the year here.
10. Subscribe to the Allovue Ledger and follow us on social media
With our monthly newsletter you can become more familiar with Allovue’s work across the country and gain insights into the different strategies from our district partners. Sign up for the newsletter at allovue.com/newsletter, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter! Want to see what the Allovue team is up to behind the scenes? Follow us on Instagram @allovuebalance!
About the Author
Jolene Gurevich is the User Engagement Manager at Allovue. She ensures that Balance users are involved with the product through regular communications, personalized trainings and online tutorials. She has worked with school districts all over the country to better understand the needs of school district personnel. As a digital native, she prides herself in making technology and financial management as intuitive for others as it is to her. Jolene is a proud product of the public school system and holds a degree in Finance and Investments from the Macaulay Honors College of the City University of New York.