Educational Articles

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Ohio customers have the ability to shop the “supply” or “usage” portion of their natural gas bill. This should not be confused with the distribution and delivery portion of your gas bill which cannot be shopped. Ohio utilities include Duke Energy, CenterPoint, Columbia Gas of OH, & Dominion Energy. Ohio customers who choose NOT to shop their supply rate through a natural gas supplier, end up on their respective utility’s default rate. Most utilities call their default rate the “Standard Choice Offer (SCO) or in Duke Energy it’s called the Gas Cost Recovery (GCR). For all utilities in Ohio, the default rate floats monthly and is mainly driven by the monthly ...
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Anyone that has ever completed a debt issuance in the capital markets is aware of the importance of the issuing entity’s credit rating. The three major rating agencies that are active in the Ohio market are Moody’s Investor’s Service, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings. Included here is a diagram of their rating categories from highest to lowest. A bond rating attempts to assess the creditworthiness of an issuer. That is the ability and willingness of the issuer to meet the debt payments of the outstanding bonds. There are many factors that are reviewed when a rating is assigned to a debt instrument. These include the local economy; the debt ...
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Co-authored by Andrew Laskey. Many districts that have undertaken facilities improvement projects over the last two years are finding themselves in the difficult position of needing additional funds in order to complete their building programs. Even with the best plans that included adequate contingencies, rising costs on everything from fuel to materials to labor are hitting budgets hard. Design and construction firms are reporting year-over-year cost increases of 15% to 20% on a cost-per-square-foot basis. When districts opt for a bond issue to undertake a major facilities program, they vote to do so months before the election. If successful on the ballot, ...
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Summer is nearly upon us. The sun is shining, the weather is warm, flowers are blooming, and school is out. Summer is a great time for outdoor activities, like going for walks, doing yard work, or even preparing the garden. These activities are a great way to reduce stress, but we need to keep in mind some of the hazards summer can bring especially the heat and sun. Heat and the sun are two hazards we may not think about when we go outside. Many times, we just want to get out of the house and enjoy the day overlooking some of the steps to protect ourselves. Before we decide on any outdoor plans, let’s take a look at some of the different types of heat and sun ...
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When it comes to employee deferral deposits, timing is everything. During the course of 403(b)/457(b) plan audits, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) commonly reviews how long an employer holds elective deferrals (employee contributions) before depositing them into the 403(b) and/or 457(b) plan. The general rule requires that contributions be deposited into the plan as soon as administratively possible, but no later than the 15th business day of the month following the month those amounts are withheld from pay. Late deferral deposits can be costly to the employer. To correct late deferrals, the IRS can require the employer to reimburse employees by calculating ...
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This article is a quick primer for those who are relatively new to the process of issuing municipal bonds. My intention is to give readers a non-technical introduction to the municipal bond sale process, including an introduction to the bond professionals involved. Bond Financing Goals Broad goals for a bond financing include the following: Safely execute an affordable borrowing to fund capital projects; Achieve the lowest payments and best loan terms possible; and Practice proper post-bond sale (continuing) disclosure and administrative practices. Bond Definition A bond represents the government’s promise to repay borrowed money on time and ...
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Co-Authored by Phil Weisshaar is a Vice President in the Public Finance Department of Stifel The number of school districts that could benefit from refinancing just dropped due to fast-rising interest rates. The AAA GO MMD – a benchmark for the tax-exempt municipal bond market (similar to the S&P 500, Dow Jones, or NASDAQ for the stock market or U.S. Treasury yields for the bond market) – has jumped up more than 100 basis points (1.00%) since the start of the year (Source: Thomson Reuters). The impact on lending volume is significant. The weekly average supply of municipal securities throughout the United States so far in 2022 is approximately 15% less ...
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The necessary knowledge of healthcare and benefit plans can be overwhelming, even for the best administrations. Each year I receive calls from treasurers and HR teams who are either considering leaving their healthcare consortium or from others who are interested in joining one. I’ve spent much of the last 20 years in the detailed evaluation of healthcare consortiums for school districts. Here's a few things I’ve learned along the way….you’re welcome all you animal lovers: Don’t be a Big Fish – Size Matters - Large districts don’t always belong in a consortium. There isn’t an exact science, but let’s say 500 employees or more can typically thrive ...
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Co-authored by Brian Cromly We continue where we left off in our previous feature in the SBO Quarterly dealing with insurance fluency . Risk is a simple concept: exposure to some hazard capable of causing a loss. The resulting loss can be a simple slip and fall causing a minor injury to a single person or a major disruption to the entire student body like the loss of an entire building due to fire or weather. The money and effort required to fully recover from these losses can come from many sources. The most common source is through the purchase of insurance to provide the resources necessary for the district to be made whole. We concluded our last feature ...
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By Roma Seegers, Amy Carenza, and Onyx Bengston In every industry, employers recognize the importance of attracting and retaining talented employees. The importance of a stable workforce is even more pronounced in education, as students depend on their teachers and faculty to create a nurturing learning environment. These attributes can be easily threatened by the burden of mental and emotional stress stemming from financial matters. Educators experience somewhat of a double-bind. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 78% of all trained teachers incur student debt in pursuit of the profession while they face a weaker pay scale relative ...
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Can all those applications jeopardize your district’s cyber security? Cybersecurity is a buzzword for a reason. Cyberattacks are on the rise in the U.S., having increased 18% YOY. On a national basis, reported attacks are almost three per day. School leaders are gathering their defenses – and rightfully so. But a lot of the initial action revolves around securing hardware, like servers, routers, personal computing devices, and the network. Districts marshal their defenses of the hardware technology like its physical armor – and, like armor, there are gaps where smaller, learner attacks, like arrows, can get through. How about all of those known and unknown ...
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The time has finally come when you, the Treasurer/CFO, has been given the green light to finance the much-needed improvements in your school district. You’ve probably been hearing for some time now that interest rates are hovering at near all-time lows and investors are searching for municipal debt. So, your next questions might be: how do I finance this project, and should I borrow on a short-term or long-term basis? What circumstances or advantages might there be for selecting one option over the other in this current market? As a reminder, short-term financing or a Note is for a term of one year or less. This is not to be confused with a Permanent Improvement ...
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Every day there is an article written about inflation, which has become the new buzzword in financial circles. Whether we are feeling it or not, inflation is happening all around us. As we know, inflation is a measure of the rate of rising prices for goods and services in an economy. Using CPI data, over the past ten years inflation has remained relatively stagnant averaging 1.7 percent. However, recently we have seen a rapid increase in this rate. The annual inflation for the month ending August 2021 was 5.3 percent and reached the highest level since 2008 in June of 2021 at 5.4 percent (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics https://www.bls.gov ). So, we ask ourselves ...
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Design-Build is a construction-procurement model that came about in the Ohio House Bill 153 Construction Reform Bill. This procurement model can be used for any type of renovation or construction project in your school buildings ranging from $50,000 to multi-million-dollar projects. Here are four things you need to know about Design-Build. You are protected. The Design-Build process requires two independent firms working on behalf of the district-- a Criteria Architect and the Design-Build firm. The Criteria Architect works directly for the school and on the school’s behalf, creating a written scope of work based on the district’s desired outcomes. With ...
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Employers must pay premiums timely to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) to receive and maintain workers' compensation coverage. Throughout the year, employers have been making premium installment payments based on estimated payroll. As we near the conclusion of the 2021 public employer policy year (January 1, 2021, through December 31, 2021), BWC will be requiring all employers to reconcile (“true-up”) the payroll that was used to estimate their premium with their actual payroll for the policy year. BWC will also be sending information regarding premium installments for the upcoming 2022 policy year (January 1, 2022, through December 31, 2022). ...
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As COVID-19 and its variants continue to be present in the workplace, it is important to convey to managers and employees the importance of following precautions when using sanitizing, cleaning, and disinfecting chemicals. Enhanced sanitation protocols for COVID-19 and its variants may necessitate the use of new chemicals in the workplace. Therefore, appropriate chemical safety policies, procedures, and training are essential to keep workers safe. Fortunately, the OSHA/PERRP Hazard Communication Standard has provided employers with the framework to make working with new chemicals easy to incorporate into their existing program. HazCom is based on a simple concept ...
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To improve the environment within a school building – namely comfort, health, safety, energy efficiency, and overall performance – you have to start with ABC or Air Barrier Continuity. Without continuity within your “building envelope,” unintentional air filtration can bring moisture, pests, odors, and even airborne infection into your controlled environments. Did you know that buildings that leak as a result of age or poor envelope construction can cost you up to 40 percent more in heating costs and 15 percent more in cooling costs? According to the U.S. Department of Education , the average school building is 42 years old. In all buildings, (but especially ...
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Technology has become an integral part of supporting the district, administration, and the learning ecosystem that leads to student success. Historically, technology has played more of a support role, however, the recent pandemic exposed the reality that districts need to move technology from a support function to a strategic partner that drives teaching, learning, and, more importantly, the operations (Finance and HR) to support the education ecosystem. As districts consider this shift, they must understand the importance of business and data systems and how data must be leveraged to provide key metrics for the many stakeholders involved in our K-12 districts. ...
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Co-authored by Daniel A. Hedden, CPA, Partner, Baker Tilly On April 30, 2021, the Ohio Auditor of State released Auditor of State Bulletin 2021-005 to all county treasurers and fiscal officers as defined by Ohio Revised Code. The purpose of the bulletin was to prescribe the form and substance of the Certificate of Transition by outgoing fiscal officers as required by recently enacted § 117.171 of the Ohio Revised Code (ORC). The Certificate of Transition is intended to facilitate a smooth and efficient transition of power or change in position to benefit both incoming and outgoing county treasurers and fiscal officers as defined by ORC § 5705.01 (D), as well ...
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The maintenance department in each district works hard all year long to keep the district running smoothly but the summer months are a little busier! How well do your associates know and follow good fire safety practices? Ask these questions to find your strengths and weaknesses in fire safety: Do I know the location of fire extinguishers and alarm boxes in each area I work? Do I know what fire extinguishers to use for each flammable or combustible chemical I use? Do I know and understand fire safety precautions for materials as outlined in warning labels or SDSs? Do I keep flammable and combustible materials away from heat and machinery? Do I know ...