New Finance Policies

Lakota Board of Education Approves New Finance Policies
Posted on 08/26/2019
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WE are Lakota
At its June 10 school board meeting, the Lakota Board of Education members voted to approve three new finance policies.

“I think it speaks volumes that we’ve gone to these steps and we’re putting these guardrails in place,” said Jenni Logan, the district’s treasurer/CFO. “The community should feel reassured that we are putting things in place that structures the way we assess our finances.” 

Policy 6217, the Budget Stabilization policy, sets rules and guidelines for the district to have reserve funds in place within the general operating fund. This is commonly referred to as a rainy day fund. 

Policy 6218, the Cash Balance Reserve policy, sets the balance of the cash reserve funds at a 90 day minimum of operating expenditures. The policy also states that the financial goals of the district should align with Lakota’s strategic plan, introduced in January of this year, and its instructional goals.

Policy 6219, the Structurally Balanced Budget policy, more clearly defines the goals surrounding a balanced budget as it relates to recurring revenues and expenditures. 

Guided by Lakota’s Finance Committee, the policies were written as an additional step in maintaining the district’s financial stability. The committee, which is comprised of members of local business and district leaders, including school board members Kelley Casper and Lynda O’Connor, worked on the guidelines after discussion and approval of the five year forecast last October. 

“We, as a district and with the guidance of our treasurer, have worked hard to get to financial stability,” said Casper. “These new policies are guardrails for us to continue being good stewards of our taxpayers’ dollars while providing the excellent education our students deserve and our community expects. We need to always do what is right for our students, giving them first-rate opportunities that will lead to their success at Lakota and in their future endeavors.”

O’Connor also believes this is a step in the right direction for Lakota. “I think putting into policy a philosophical statement that we as a board believe we should follow - practices that lead us to a balanced budget - is an important step in ensuring our financial stability and the health of the district,” she said. “Sustainability remains an issue for me on any long term plan. The policies are a good place to start, but not the final outcome.” 

“Lakota Schools is financially sound,” said Logan. “We have not only exceeded the levy promises, but continue to be good stewards of our community’s tax dollars.” The levy, which passed in 2013, promised 10 school resource officers, of which the district now has 18. Additionally, seven class periods were brought back to ninth grade students in 2014 and, in January of this year, a more robust seventh period option was offered at the high school main campuses. In 2018, daily specials, including a new health and wellness class, were brought back to primary grades and all-day kindergarten was introduced.

Logan believes that the introduction of these policies will continue to keep the district on the right path financially. “In addition to these safeguards, we are planning to apply a stress test to the policies,” she explained. The stress test, a tool from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), gives school districts insight as to how its finances will react if the economy goes into a recession. 

“There are always unknowns in a financial forecast,” said Logan. “These new policies, along with the upcoming stress test, are a way for Lakota to be better prepared for the future.”