School Business Affairs June 2019 SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS | JUNE 2019 9 Sources of Information Above all, the financial information communicated must be accurate and from reliable sources. Those sources include the following: Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. The CAFR provides stakeholders, investors, and other inter- ested parties insight into how school business profession- als manage public funds. The CAFR details the financial position of the district through the financial statements, along with the auditor’s report and specific historical economic, financial, demographic, and operating data to help assess the district’s performance over the years. School business officials can use the CAFR to demon- strate and communicate the accountability and steward- ship of the public funds the district receives. School district budget. School district leaders use the budget as a tool to guide decision making for the current and future years. A transparent budget process communicates to the school district’s stakeholders the resources that the district expects to receive and the manner in which those resources will be expended. Through the budget process, school business leaders can show the public the origins of the school district’s funds, such as state funding (which could be based on student enrollment), federal funding (such as competitive grants), and local funding (including property and sales tax revenues). School districts do not tell their story, celebrate their successes, or explain their challenges often enough. If the budget is adjusted after adoption, school busi- ness officials should share the modifications with the community—demonstrating that the budget is closely monitored and that predicted shortfalls or surpluses may alter the district’s strategic plans. For example, if the district expects revenues to exceed expenditures in a budget year, the administration may announce possible future sustainable employee raises, expanded educational programs, improved capital assets, or other enhancements that would benefit the district. If expenditures are predicted to exceed revenues, it is equally as important to share possible strategies, such as streamlining processes by evaluating operational efficiencies, implementing a reduction in force, consoli- dating schools, or taking other cost-cutting or revenue- raising measures to reduce deficit spending. Independent auditor’s report. An independent auditor’s written opinion of the school district’s finan- cial statements serves as evidence that the procedures and records used to develop the financial statements are accurate as published. An auditor’s opinion is important to the public because it comes from outside the school district and therefore is usually perceived to be reliable and unbi- ased. Although the independent auditor’s opinion may not always be positive, the school business office can use this tool as an opportunity to communicate the district’s strengths and weaknesses. School performance scores. Accountability is cru- cial in the world of education. School and district per- formance scores help measure the progress of individual school sites and the district as a whole. School business officials can use this information for two purposes: to demonstrate to stakeholders the need to fund programs to improve performance scores, to demonstrate the suc- cess of district schools, and to use that success as a way to increase student enrollment. School districts do not tell their story, celebrate their successes, or explain their challenges often enough. Tax renewals, bond proposals, and support from legislators are all important to the financial success of school districts. To garner that support, stakeholders must have a clear under- standing of the nature, philosophies, and practices in the world of school business. Ensuring that understanding is the responsibility of school business officials. Whether the information is favorable or unfavorable, it needs to be communicated. Transparency matters. Good or bad, stakeholders must hear it from district administrators first. Assumption Parish Schools hosts public meetups that focus on building engagement with the community and discussing district academic goals and future planning. “We want everyone in the parish to know their voice is heard and their insight matters when it comes to the education of the children in the parish,” according to Superintendent Jeremy Couvillion.