School Business Affairs September 2019 SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS | SEPTEMBER 2019 5 S chool business is big business. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in FY15, public elementary and secondary districts in the United States reported $566.6 billion in current expenditures. Of those expendi- tures, salaries, wages and employee benefits amounted to almost $460 billion. School districts are often the largest enter- prises in their communities in terms of rev- enues, expenditures, employment, and capital assets. School finance is considered to be so important that it is regulated by state and fed- eral legislation as well as by the courts; conse- quently, for many school business officials, the three primary finance functions—budgeting, accounting, and auditing—represent a signifi- cant and critical proportion of their overall scope of responsibility and authority. School districts differ fundamentally from for-profit business enterprises in several ways, including primary stakeholders, organizational purposes, processes of generating revenues, and budgetary obligations. These differences require districts to have distinct accounting and financial reporting standards in order to provide stakeholders with the information necessary to ensure transparency and account- ability as well as to make well-informed politi- cal, social, and economic decisions. School districts must be responsive to various groups and organizations, including elected officials, other governmental entities, investors, creditors, and citizens who monitor their activities. In order to supply that infor- mation, school business leaders must be able to gather, provide, and interpret financial data in such a way that it is clear, coherent, and easy to understand by all stakeholders, from parents to government officials. Two ASBO International programs are par- ticularly valuable in the areas of accounting, budgeting, and financial reporting: the Cer- tificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting (COE) and the Meritorious Budget Award (MBA) and Pathway to the MBA. Another way ASBO International helps school business officials and their districts within the realm of finance is through its involvement with the Governmental Account- ing Standards Board (GASB) and GASB’s Governmental Accounting Standards Advisory Council (GASAC). The GASB ( ) is an indepen- dent private-sector organization that estab- lishes accounting and financial reporting standards for U. S. state and local governments that follow Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). The GASAC consults with the GASB on technical issues on the board’s agenda, project priorities, matters likely to require the atten- tion of the GASB, selection and organization of task forces, and other matters. The council has more than 25 members who represent those who prepare and use financial informa- tion, such as state auditors, accountants, inves- tors, legislators, and municipal workers. ASBO International is fortunate to have ASBO International Board Member John Hutchison as a representative on the GASAC. Through John’s representation, ASBO Inter- national can take an active role in improving financial accounting and reporting standards for our members. Having a seat at the table ensures that the school business official’s voice is heard. Thus, we are promoting policies that enhance our profession rather than reacting to policies we had no hand in creating. The Business of School Business By Tom Wohlleber, CSRM president’s message Tom Wohlleber Chief Financial Officer Casa Grande (Arizona) Elementary School District Charles E. Peterson, Jr. MBA, PRSBA, SFO Immediate Past President Marvin Dereef Jr., SFO Director through 2020 Bill Sutter, SFO Director through 2020 Michael Johnston Director through 2019 Angela Von Essen Director through 2019 2019 Board of Directors WORKING TOGETHER to ma ke a difference Claire Hertz, CSBA, SFO Vice President Susan Harkin Director through 2021 John Hutchison, CPA, SFO Director through 2021 David J. Lewis Executive Director