In most states, a good deal of their state budget is used for education. As a society, we are comfortable with spending a great deal of our tax funds on educating our youth knowing that this is an investment that must be made to insure economic security for our country. It is amazing to me that although we require teachers to have very specific endorsements within a subject matter, we have few states who require any sort of endorsement for school business managers. I would guess that most states mimic Iowa, the state in which I live, and require a financial component to superintendent certification. I am not sure that this is enough. In many of our smaller schools, we have both superintendents and business managers who are not well equiped to manage the finances of the districts they serve. School finance is often very different than what is seen in other organizations.
It is comforting to know that in my state, we have both a professional orgnization dedicated to assisting school business managers as well as experts at the state organization of school boards who are dedicated specifically to supporting district financial officers.
I still feel strongly that there needs to be a certification process as well as a requirement for ongoing training for these individuals responsible for managing our tax dollars. I believe that there needs to be a requirement for an annual explanation of school finance for school board members and the public they represent. Not just an outline of the district finances, but an explanation on how school finance works in general. There are many, including most educators, who do not understand restrictions on spending. We have teacher organizations/unions who are negotiating for their salaries without a good understanding of categorical spending limits, what funds can be used for salaries, limits on spending authority and the impact their salary negotiations have on the overall organization.
In our district we have teachers and members of our community who don’t understand how we can be discussing large spending on infrastructure while we in turn express a need to reduce staff. Frustration by our public is largely due to our shortcomings in educating them about school finance and often results in a distrust of school leaders.
On another note I will not elaborate on extensively, school leader’s salaries are often reported with little explanation of how their contracts and responsibilities differ from those of the teachers. In my district, I am paid for 260 days of work while the public often has the impression that I work only on the days teachers and students are in the building. Again this is due to our shortcomings in educating our public. I would love to see my salary posted as a per diem along side the per diem of individual teachers in the district. To place my annual salary next to a teacher’s salary who is working 70-80 fewer days can often leave a public and many teachers the impression that I am over compensated for my duties. If comparisions are to be made, they need to be made in an apples to apples manner.
The opinions expressed in LeaderTalk are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.