Accounting and Auditing
Advisory Memorandum on School District Reporting Requirements; July 26, 2000
In connection with the development and implementation of the new School and District Accountability System recently adopted by the Board of Education, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has been reviewing the adequacy and reliability of the school and school district data that is presently collected on the DOE end of year school returns. This review has drawn heavily on the findings and recommendations of the educational audits conducted over the past three years by the Department of Revenue under the auspices of the Governor's Educational Management Accountability Board.
Last September DOE announced several planned changes in accounting and reporting procedures, which have been discussed in detail at this month's end-of-year reporting workshops. Although all school business managers and municipal accountants should already be aware of these changes, we thought it would be useful to provide this summary for the benefit of superintendents, mayors, and selectmen.
Data Accuracy and Reliability
Data on the end of year school returns is used to calculate state aid entitlements, and is used as part of the school and district evaluations mandated by the education reform act. It is essential that the data be accurate and reliable. DOE has developed a compliance supplement, to be used in conjunction with each municipality's and district's annual audit, to provide these assurances.
The compliance supplement was pilot tested in five districts earlier this year in conjunction with their FY 1999 audits. All districts are being asked to include this supplement in their audit submission for FY 2000 and subsequent years. The supplement has been posted on the DOE web site, and orientation and training sessions are being conducted for CPA firms.
In those instances where the audit findings indicate a need for improvement in a district's accounting practices or internal controls, districts will be asked to submit an appropriate corrective action plan.
Revised Chart of Accounts
A joint DOE/MASBO committee has developed a revised chart of accounts which provides school and instructional expenditure information with greater specificity for accountability purposes. This chart of accounts will be utilized for school district financial reporting beginning with FY 2002. Districts which wish to voluntarily adopt the new chart of accounts for FY 2001 reporting may do so. We will provide a crosswalk from the new account structure to the current account structure in conjunction with the FY 2001 year-end reporting.
Unified Financial Reporting
Unified financial reporting will provide reporting from all fund sources, including school committee appropriations, other municipal appropriations, federal grants, state grants, private grants, and revolving and special funds. This will provide a more accurate picture of total spending in each school district.
School Level Reporting
Beginning in FY 2001, DOE will be collecting data on instructional costs at the school building level. This new school level reporting requirement will be phased in over a three year period as follows:
A Projected Schedule 3 was distributed with the FY 2000 EOYR materials. The projected Schedule 3 will be based on FY 2001 budgeted expenses using the current chart of accounts on a unified financial reporting basis. Due November 15, 2000.
FY 2001 EOYR Schedule 3. Based on actual FY 2001 expenditures using the current chart of accounts on a unified financial reporting basis. Due September 30, 2001.
FY 2002 EOYR Schedule 3. Based on actual FY 2002 expenditures using the revised chart of accounts on a unified financial reporting basis. Due September 30, 2002.
Student Information Management System
All districts have been working closely with DOE's Information Systems group in the development of the state-wide student information management system. As soon as this system is fully operational, it will replace much of the pupil data collection currently done through the end of year returns and other periodic reports. We will keep you informed of our progress in this area.
If you or your staff have any questions concerning these new procedures, please contact Jay Sullivan (781-338-6594) at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education or your DOR Bureau of Accounts field representative. Thank you.
James Johnson, Director of Accounts, Department of Revenue
Jeff Wulfson, Chief Financial Officer, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education