Schild: Scottsdale school board ought to be safeguard for taxpayer assets

In 2004, I wrote “Monitoring the District’s Financial Operations is a Key Function of School Boards,” which was published in the Arizona School Boards Association Journal.

At the time, I was a member of the Scottsdale school board. I pointed out that school board members are responsible for safeguarding the district’s financial assets and warned that failure to do so may result in penalties and state monitoring.

I advocated that the board use best practices in financial oversight including:

  • Annual training for board members on the budget and procurement procedures;
  • Thorough and understandable monthly board budget reports;
  • Review of the prior two years’ budget and current year proposed budget on an annual basis;
  • The process includes a statement of the short- and long-term implications of the proposed budget and any revisions;
  • The board has and follows written guidelines for the amount the Superintendent may spend without prior board approval.
  • The board ensures the administration is working to increase efficiencies and reduce costs.
  • In order to ensure this oversight role is fulfilled, I encouraged all school boards to adopt goals for the superintendent and itself that defines its role in monitoring the district’s finances.
  • The superintendent’s written evaluation instrument should spell out the type and quantity of financial information that will be provided to the board.
  • The board should ensure adequate financial controls are in place to prevent loss including internal and external auditing functions.
  • The board should be provided with adequate information on Consent Agenda items.
  • The board should receive and review the following reports: monthly budget to actual; annual classroom versus non-classroom spending; and the comprehensive annual financial report.

Board members must use best practices to safeguard the District’s financial resources. Written guidelines and procedures can protect the board and District in the event of loss caused by a dishonest employee. Adhering to these written procedures reassures the community the board is adequately monitoring the District’s finances without micromanaging the Superintendent.

Christine Schild

Scottsdale’s current circumstances were caused, in my opinion, because the board failed to fulfill its oversight obligations. Although there has only been one indictment (and no conviction), if the board received training on the budget and procurement and ensured adequate controls were in place to prevent loss the outcome may have been different.

As a member of the board from 2003 through 2006, I pushed my other Board members to adhere to these best practices. After my term ended, many of these procedures were abandoned. If you write me in and connect the arrow, I will push the board to implement these best practices and monitor the District’s finances with the appropriate level of oversight.

I’m Christine Schild and I am running as a write-in candidate for the Scottsdale School Governing Board. Please write my name on the blank space provided on your ballot and connect the arrow.

Editor’s note: Ms. Schild is a resident of Scottsdale and a former member of the Scottsdale School Board and Neighborhood Enhancement Commission. She can be reached at Schild4SUSD@gmail.com.

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