Educational Articles

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Authored by Marvin Founds, Managing Director, Baker Tilly; and Jeremy Buskirk, Senior Manager, Baker Tilly Heading into the calendar year-end and the start of a new year, treasurer/CFOs have plenty to think about as the five-year forecasts are being completed and budget season is around the corner. We developed a checklist of five topics, plus a bonus item, that should be considered at this point in the fiscal year with tips and practices to help you whether you are new to the job or a seasoned professional. Five-year forecast: You have gathered all the information for your five-year forecast to update revenue and expenditure assumptions, including ...
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It's no secret that there is federal funding forthcoming for our school districts to help subsidize the costs of electric buses. While a subsidy is great, like any business decision, there are capital and operating costs to be considered when analyzing whether electric buses make sense for your district’s fleet. There are also many questions. What is the added investment to buy an electric bus vs. a diesel? What is the range of a bus if fully charged? How long does it take to charge? What are the maintenance costs? What additional infrastructure is needed to charge an electric bus fleet? What will the electric utility charge to upgrade its infrastructure to ...
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During the pandemic, the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) created manual classification code 9444 Public Clerical Telecommuter Employees for Public Employer Taxing Districts (PEC) which assigned operational staff to perform clerical or non-operational duties at home. The BWC Board of Directors recently voted to keep class code 9444 and update the description to include all clerical employees. This change will go into effect for the January 1, 2023 policy year and will allow public employers to report their clerical employees, as well as clerical telecommuters, separately under manual 9444. Historically, all public employees were generally reported ...
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Many of us spend most of our day sitting down. Whether it's driving, reading at home, or working, constant sitting can result in pain to the back, neck, shoulders, wrists, and hands. One of the ways to combat this is a properly designed workstation. The other way to alleviate the pain is proper posture and body positioning. Over the years, we may have developed some bad habits, but we can change those to good habits by incorporating some changes in our posture and body positioning. It may not be easy at first, but with continual practice and awareness, the changes will happen subconsciously. Below are a few tips to consider when sitting at your desk. Remember, ...
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Here we are again, on the cusp of winter in Ohio. The fluctuating temps and freeze/thaw cycles can wreak havoc on your buildings if you’re not properly prepared. Take heart - there are simple strategies you can use to prevent winter-induced facility problems. What’s more, these strategies can help you to save on energy and heating costs, and to ensure faculty, staff, and student health, safety, and comfort. Start at the Top Old man winter exposes roofs to several harsh conditions, such as snow loading, freeze-thaw cycling, storm debris, and possibly even deicing chemicals. So, before the frost arrives, winterize your roofs with these best practices: Conduct ...
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It is that time of year again when scary costumes, spiders, and spooky things are on our minds. Some potentially bizarre things can happen to our forecasts for November as well. This is a quick summary of some of the more common scary items to consider as part of your defense to keep these creepy items out of your forecast. Fund 467 and 507 Costs Returning to the General Fund For several years, districts received revenues that many used to help the General Fund. In some cases, General Fund staff was moved to these funds. In other cases, new staff and programs were added to help with learning losses. Whatever your situation, it is essential to know what amount ...
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As students and staff recover from major pandemic-related disruptions - mental health challenges, staff shortages, absenteeism, and lost instructional time - a residual effect will be how to dispose of property no longer needed due to or purchased because of the pandemic. Many schools have a surplus of, and no longer a use for, thousands of pounds of plexiglass, out-of-date and unsalvageable laptop computers, and countless masks. Disposing of this personal property in the correct manner is paramount to staying compliant with the auditor. Every school’s process will vary slightly, and the district’s board policy is the guidepost for the exact process of property ...
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The current economic news may point to more downside (inflation, recession) than upside, but the prior two to three years have seen a combination of favorable influences on many school district cash balance reserves. This partial list (below) helps the treasurer/CFO to identify some of the favorable variances that might exist in a financial forecast prepared in May 2020 versus May 2022. New State Funding Impact on Revenue and Tuition Transfers ESSER/COVID Stimulus Rising Property Values Robust Local Income Tax Performance Reduced Operating Cost (COVID closures, Less Health Insurance Inflation) The graph below depicts the forecasts filed by ...
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We’ve made it through another summer break and school is right around the corner. Maybe the break wasn’t long enough, or, perhaps it was too long! Typically, during this time our focus has been on yard maintenance, kids, parties, and hopefully, a vacation. But with all this over we need to change our focus and begin to think about school hazards. With the upcoming school season soon to begin, let’s start thinking about some of those hazards and how we can get back to promoting safety for our staff and students. Let’s look at some of the hazards and where they might be found. Doing a risk assessment is a great process in findings hazards. Consider having others ...
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By Marvin Founds & Susan Reed Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) discussions have become much more prevalent in recent years. Propelled by a strong international focus, ESG has gained momentum in the United States. Much of the focus has been on corporate activity. Environmental topics have included air or water pollution as a result of business activity or product manufacturing. There has been rising social issue awareness in such things as hiring practices and equal opportunities provided to employees. Corporate governance has been a focus with questions of ethical business practices and increasing awareness of corporate behavior. These areas ...
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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 ...