Pay Theory Blog
May 12, 2022

Reflect, Relearn, Refocus: Best Practices for Managing School Finances

How is your district approaching school finances this year? Between juggling state budgets, student-resource expenses, and family inclusivity of payments, it helps to have a guiding hand in best practices.

1. Process Reflection

When looking at what is and isn’t working in your current district finance management strategy, it helps to start by looking at the financial process.

Has the current treasurer documented all of their processes? If so, are these shared with the Board of Education well before the start of the year? These types of communication channels are important first steps to a financially successful school year.

Districts can also benefit from involving a larger team in financial decision-making. Doing this ahead of time will help set the school year up for success. A wider team can help monitor changing state regulations, or bring up new expenses a single treasurer may not think of. When preparing for the upcoming year, it’s important that nothing slips between the cracks.

2. Resource Integration

With thousands of families in a typical school district, financial management plays a major role in district operations. Schools often have dozens of varying priorities, so informed financial decisions require extensive planning and research.
For example, school financial committee members may not have the same operational finance knowledge as a “startup CFO who has … set up financial systems in a growing organization” (Charter School Growth Fund). This is where districts can benefit by bringing on this kind of consultant. Some districts also work with third-party providers that are experts in school finance management - like an offsite finance team.

There are also digital resources to create online dashboards and databases. These programs can plan a district’s year-to-year financials and then use the data to generate a dashboard. The dashboard includes progress reports, budget sheets, and financial projections, so your district’s financial team doesn’t have to generate them by hand.

Overall, there is a plethora of expert and online resources to help guide your district to financial growth.

3. Consider the Underbanked

Today, only 73% of US households are banked. This leaves 1 in 3 families without a way to conduct simple, day-to-day financial transactions. School fees are no exception. Underbanked families are not able to pay for field trips, lunches, or other expenses online. However, the use of cash creates headaches for school treasurers and often requires mountains of paperwork.

Platforms like Pay Theory use eCash payments and a network of retail partners to help underbanked families make these types of purchases. It’s vital for schools to consider all families and students in their 2022 finances, including the underbanked.

What this Means

Adhering to these 3 practices signifies a more well distributed and inclusive process of managing financial perspectives as a school board. Treasurers and school financial committees know planning school budgets is no easy feat or an overnight task. Having conscious reevaluation of how financials are managed and their impact on families is the best guiding hand for creating a positive and successful budget for the year.