Afton’s work with public schools around the country has allowed us to surface simple best practices to help school system leaders confidently lead and oversee the fiscal aspects of running a school system. Now, we are sharing what we have learned by developing a diagnostic tool and providing actionable recommendations for each part of the school system – board, executive leadership team, finance team – to strengthen the school system’s finances such that money becomes an enabler and less of a distraction.  

When we do this work with school systems, school system leadership will:

  1. Know specific and appropriate board financial governance to institute
  2. Be confident in the type of skill sets and level of capacity required in the finance and accounting function
  3. Understand the specific risks in the school system’s long-term financial sustainability and current financial health and how to mitigate them
  4. Know how each of the school system’s leadership team members’ roles can meaningfully participate and contribute to the financial health of your school system

We have worked with dozens of school systems thus far using this tool and process, and specific actions that school systems have successfully taken with it include:

  • Improved and simplified financial reporting and related cadences with the board and leadership team
  • Enhanced financial planning to inform significant decisions on facility planning, debt financing, and tax referendums
  • Reconstitutions of the board finance committee
  • Re-organized and more efficient finance and accounting functions
  • Recoveries from a liquidity crisis
  • Improved budget processes
  • More streamlined procure-to-pay cycles
  • New written financial policies and procedures

Our work spans 4 primary areas, and it is quick and cost effective:

Our process requires a school system to share a base level of pre-existing documentation with us and minimal time commitment from school system staff and board members.  What results is the school system’s “financial playbook” – not just a written assessment, but an improvement plan with a bias for action for board members and the senior leadership team.  It also allows for a superintendent or CEO of schools to improve in financial acumen, resulting in the ability to ask better questions pertaining to financial health and operations, ultimately empowering overall leadership.