Educational Articles

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Co-Authored by Justin Cook Since early 2020, COVID-19 has been responsible for unprecedented disruptions to the American economy and substantial hardships for countless individuals. The federal government acted quickly bypassing two wide-ranging relief measures in March 2020: the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “FFCRA”) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”). These laws include new mandated paid sick and family leave for employees, as well as the Qualified Family Leave Credit, Qualified Sick Leave Credit, and Employee Retention Tax Credits (collectively, the “Employer Tax Credits”). Unfortunately for public ...
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Co-Authored by Michelle Hillstrom Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion are to a personal credit score as Moody’s Investors Service, Inc. (“Moody’s”), Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings (“S&P”), and Fitch Ratings Inc. (“Fitch”) are to a school district credit rating. These institutions translate our complex life experiences into a more or less objective scale that then determines parts of our financial lives. A school district’s credit rating, similar to a personal credit score, is one of the most important determinants of borrowing costs and maybe a source of community pride. The following article describes (1) background on Moody’s major new rating methodology ...
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As a former treasurer from the good ole days of a couple of years ago, I can only imagine the headaches you are dealing with. When I read the OASBO updates I think about what is has to be like working kind of behind the scenes as a school business official. But you are doing it as always, playing a major part in keeping education working, Back in those good ole days I was fortunate to serve on the OASBO Board of Directors. At the time we looked at ways for our members to give back to their communities through OASBO. In the middle of the pandemic, it is easy for this slip behind the unknowns that are facing us each day. Unfortunately, that need to give back ...
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Co-authored by Andrew Laskey . A roof needs to be replaced. The heating or air conditioning is not working. The parking lot needs new blacktop. The football stadium field turf or stands need to be replaced or repaired. What options do Ohio school districts have to finance these relatively smaller capital improvement projects that come up from time to time in the course of running a school district? The first question may be, “What’s my legal authority to borrow to finance my project?” The next question may be, “Who will lend us the money?” In this article, we will address both questions. Ohio school districts have a very limited unvoted debt capacity. This ...
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For the last several months, employers and employees have been navigating new work environments to deal with the uncharted territory in which we now all find ourselves. This "new normal" creates challenges that many of us have not faced before, and the day-to-day processes previously in place had to be modified to allow us to continue to perform our duties. For employers who have a need to ensure their employees are provided with benefits and pertinent information, there has been a shift from large group settings to virtual meetings to provide information and answer questions on a one-on-one basis. This has created an additional strain on staff resources and ...
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Co-authored by Adam Balls. The year 2020 has been a most trying year for all aspects of our society. Education has been affected as severely as any area of the community. Unfortunately, the insurance industry has seen change as well and is causing additional financial pressure to our schools. Throughout Q3, the public entity marketplace has expressed concerns and imposed material term changes at expirations, including: Aggregation of limits across historically dedicated lines of coverage for both individual risk and pooling structures Distinct communicable disease/organic pathogen exclusions Pressure for affirmative sexual abuse language to ...
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Many of us make efforts to leverage the latest technology but keeping up does not go without its challenges. In this year of Covid-19, we have been forced to dive into aggressively utilizing technology out of necessity without “doing our homework” as thoroughly as we might have in different circumstances. School districts are motivated to move away from cash transactions for two reasons. Overall, moving to inbound electronic payment transactions in replacement of cash or high levels of accounts receivable has several benefits. Near-elimination of “opportunity” for accounts receivable embezzlement Less cash-on-hand, therefore decreasing visits to bank ...
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Workplace safety is a high priority and a concern for employers and employees alike. A workplace injury can impact a worker’s life, health, and ability to earn an income. Workers’ compensation claims also have a direct impact on an employer’s bottom line. Claims can result in higher workers’ compensation premiums, affect employee morale, and create labor shortages that make completing projects on time challenging. Despite our best efforts, accidents happen, and when they do it is critically important to manage the claim effectively from the moment it occurs. All employees should be trained and be familiar with injury protocols and procedures so when that incident ...
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Whether you're working from home, or in your office, your workstation set up can make or break how your body feels by the end of the day. Positioning yourself properly - and encouraging others in your school district to do so - can go a long way in preventing muscle strain, fatigue and more. This article describes useful tips for better ergonomics at your workstation. Monitor and keyboard should be directly in front of you. The purpose is to eliminate static twisted postures for either the employee’s neck or the torso. Performing static work, such as holding a fixed posture, causes the muscles involved to fatigue more quickly. Additionally, holding ...
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This article was provided by Brad Hunt, Chief Operating Officer, PRA Global. In the time of COVID-19, school districts everywhere are asking themselves how to ensure the health and safety of their employees and how to comply with the law. More often with the novel coronavirus, school administrators and school boards are unsure which standards are applicable to this new threat. To assist schools with making decisions about a safe reopening, the Ohio Department of Health and Ohio Department of Education issued COVID-19 Health and Prevention Guidance for Ohio K-12 Schools . It provides extensive information, however, one item, in particular, requires ...
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Co-Authored by Matt McMillen . COVID-19 has made this year’s back-to-school season more complicated than ever. With school fully back in-swing, here are some technical and financial considerations as the last quarter of 2020 begins: Is the existing building automation system (BAS) capable of improving indoor air quality? Are more than ventilation-only air-quality measures being utilized? What facility best-practices and updated have been implemented? What measures can be financed by CARES Act funds? Below is a short summary and overview of best practices and control strategies to help improve indoor air quality and slow the transmission of viruses ...
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Co-Authored by Jordan Peters . When school districts consider their options for bringing an issue to market, whether it is for a new project or refinancing existing debt, the most common alternatives tend to be a competitive or negotiated transaction in the capital market. Another choice that in some cases may be suitable for school districts to consider in their decision-making process is a direct bank purchase. The working group, document preparation, structural considerations, and other transaction procedures differ from a capital markets issue. These differences, among others, are discussed below. A Bank Purchase and the Participants In a direct ...
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Flexibility matters more than ever this year. Many districts are either currently implementing (or planning to implement) some variation of a hybrid learning model, and it’s likely that many more will find it necessary to further adapt their operations by the time we reach winter break. Having the tools and best practices in place to operate your district remotely can help you cope with changes and maintain the most stable hybrid learning environment possible for students. Hybrid education calls for more than distance learning solutions for students. The entire school needs remote operations capabilities to adequately support teachers and staff, especially ...
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Co-authored by Jason Headings The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our daily lives in a variety of ways. Recent news headlines and market volatility are making communication more critical than ever as the pandemic continues to restrict commerce around the world. The surge in jobless claims and loss of economic productivity due to the impact of the virus is unlike anything the modern global economy has seen. The market has also experienced some historic moments as well. In addition to reaching an all-time high on February 19th, the S&P 500 Index had its fastest 10 percent drop from a market peak in history, in only 6 days. It then proceeded to have ...
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We are not alone, but we are lonely. COVID-19 has taken an emotional toll on employees and has compounded stress and loneliness in an already stressed and increasingly lonely workforce. The continued fear, uncertainty, upended routines, financial pressure, and challenge for parents trying to tackle work and child care from home has impacted our daily emotions — reducing our joy, increasing our stress, and magnifying our feelings of loneliness. What is Loneliness, and Why Should Employers Care About It? Loneliness is often difficult to describe and diagnose because the feeling is wholly subjective, but put simply it’s a feeling of inadequate social connections. ...
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The end of the 2019-20 school year brought uncertainty and new realities for schools across the nation. As the country shut down, school leaders wrestled with maintaining education programming in a new environment, while reimagining what the future of reopening school would look like. Uncertainty surrounding school funding and the economic impact the pandemic would have on finances created many unknowns for school leaders. As we begin the 2020-21 school year, there are still many unknowns, especially in relation to school funding. This makes the role of the school business official more critical than ever. One question you may be asking yourself is, “How can ...
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The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently announced in Revenue Procedure 2020-32 the contribution limits for Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), and guidelines for HSA-Qualified High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) for 2021. These amounts are adjusted for inflation each year. Employers may want to review and consider incorporating these new limits. 2021 Limits Employee-only coverage: $3,600 annual HSA contribution limit, $1,400 minimum deductible, $7,000 out-of-pocket maximum Family coverage: $7,200 annual HSA contribution limit, $2,800 minimum deductible, $14,000 out-of-pocket maximum Employers may wish to remind employees that recent ...
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The ongoing pandemic forced administrators and teachers to seek out collaboration platforms and video conferencing solutions to host virtual meetings and online learning. Such a rapid shift meant many districts didn’t have time to properly evaluate a technology solution that was right for their continuity plan—one that took into full consideration the needs of their people and processes. This patch approach meant districts were particularly exposed to security risks, experienced inconsistent platforms and developed no enhancements to their processes. With both the demands and struggles arising from COVID19 at the global forefront, now’s the time for school ...
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Your organization depends on technology to run —but states of emergency, like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, are clearly testing how districts can maintain operational continuity in times of crisis. Whether or not your district was prepared for the immediate remote environmental change, there are lessons to be learned on the importance of building and sustaining a reliable and secure network infrastructure. For school districts of any size, critical access to administrative and instructional content relies on the internet, applications (cloud and local server-based), building networking and wireless, computers, data storage and back up, security layers, policies, ...
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In order to provide on-going remote instruction and overcome the “digital divide” of those who have limited broadband at home, many schools around the country are turning their wireless networks toward their parking lots. Similarly, districts have positioned busses throughout the neighborhoods the school serves to act as WiFi hotspots. These are reasonable responses to address community needs in a crisis—but districts should use an abundance of caution to deploy these solutions securely. Exposing your school network to the public is risky. It can increase the chances of a cyber-attack or individuals utilizing your school’s network as a platform to initiate malicious ...
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