DCSD budget team receives international award
CASTLE ROCK - The Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO) has awarded Douglas County School District its Meritorious Budget Award for excellence in budget presentation during the 2014-2015 budget year.
The Meritorious Budget Awards (MBA) program promotes and recognizes excellence in school budget presentation as well as enhancing school business officials' skills in developing, analyzing, and presenting a school system budget.
“ASBO really wants the story of why the budget is allocated in such a way and why you are spending money on certain initiatives and programs,” explained DCSD Budget Director Scott Smith. “We have related [the budget] back to the Strategic Plan as much as possible. We described Site Based Budgeting and provided individual school pages that highlight the differences in each school and the differences in their budget. We definitely included some parts about safety and world class education, including assessments and GVCs. We also discussed tax rates and how funding varies across school districts in Colorado, as well as how Douglas County fits in.”
“It is really a comprehensive view of where all of the monies come from, what the priorities that drive budget decisions are, and what the final budget allocations are, as determined by site-level leaders," Smith added.
This is especially remarkable, given that per ASBO regulations, Smith’s team only had90 days after the Board of Education approved the budget to pull everything together.
“It is an incredible effort,” Smith said. “In those 90 days you’re not only compiling all of the District-wide fund budgets, but you’re compiling all the school budgets and all the department budgets, as well as looking back five years at historical spending.”
Over the past two years, Director Scott Smith, has worked with his budget staff, primarily Joshua Curnow and Alexandria Borlabi, as well as Jesse Shaw, John Waltrip and Colleen Temple, in cleaning up and refining the budget book format and content with the intent of making sure it meets all the requirements associated with both the budget book rubrics of ASBO and GFOA (Government Finance Officers Association).
One of the many requirements, according to Borlabi, was ensuring that the information truly reflected the decisions and priorities of the upcoming school year.
“We must keep focused on the year that we are planning for. We are not just presenting the same information year-after-year,” Borlabi said.
After a rigorous review by professional auditors, the award is conferred only on school districts that have met or exceeded the program’s stringent criteria.
“This award is a reflection of the budget analyst team and the financial analyst team. Our team is so strong,” Smith said. “We take our responsibility of managing taxpayer assets very seriously and being transparent about how we’re spending those taxpayer dollars.”
“This team has done remarkable work over the past year and a half. Not only have we received the MBA award but we have built a school carry over tool that gives schools more visibility into their financials. This tool has enabled our team to provide schools with their carryover two months earlier than usual,” Smith added.
Only about 120 school districts across the US and Canada received ASBO's Meritorious Budget Award last year.
In addition to the creation of the 380-page DCSD Book, this year the Budget department also created a smaller, easier-to-read Quick Reference Guide.
“[The budget book] is an incredibly exhaustive document that examines everything that we’re doing, all of the decisions that are being made in our District, including every department, every school,” Smith explained. “We realize the average parent, citizen, taxpayer is not going to go through hundreds of pages of school finance jargon.”
“In the spirit of improving communication and transparency, we really wanted to provide a budget document that really puts the annual budget in more in layman’s terms and makes it shorter to read and easier to understand than the budget book,” Smith said.
About the Association of School Business Officials
ASBO International, founded in 1910, is a professional organization of 5,000 members that provides programs and services to promote the highest standards of school business management practices, professional growth, and the effective use of education resources.
For more information about the MBA award, visit ASBO’s website: www.asbointl.org/MBA.