Fiscal awareness and management of resources are primary responsibilities for today's Superintendent. The objective of this course is to prepare candidates to both understand and meet these responsibilities.
Major Topics in District School Finance
- The history of public-school funding in Texas – Review the history of Texas public-school funding and know the legislative changes to funding and the legal challenges that have sometimes motivated these changes. Understand the basic elements of the Foundation
- School Program. Learn the responsibilities of a local taxing unit like a school district under the Texas Truth in Taxation requirements.
- School Bond Issues – Know the process of a bond issue campaign in Texas and the statutory law that forms the basis of the bond issue process. Analyze several studies concerning bond issue campaigns with an eye towards what makes for a successful campaign. Understand the responsibilities and challenges facing a Superintendent/CEO when their district initiates a bond issue campaign.
- The Board’s Role in Financial Responsibility – Understand the Board’s role in financial responsibility. Candidates reflect on their own board practices in this regard. Understand how to align needs, strategies and finance for a district through considering the documented work of TEA’s System of Great Schools specifically through analyzing school performance, expanding great options, improving access to options, and creating new organizational structures. Consider strategies for maximizing financial effort for direct instructional purposes and student improvement.
- The Use of Public Funds – Know and understand the prescribed statutory and constitutional limitations on the use of public funds and what best practices are for compliance with these parameters.
- Conflicts of Interest – Understand and apply the basic concepts which serve as the foundation for transparency and establishing appropriate relationships free from “undue influence” and conflicts that undermine the work of the district in serving students and their families.
- Liability and Insurance – Understand the initiation of a lawsuit and the three phases of the civil litigation process in Texas that follows as well as best practices for responding on receipt of notice of a lawsuit against the district. Learn best practices for risk management at a district level. Consider a variety of common liability issues and the relative risk they pose to school districts.
- Transportation – Consider available state data and background information concerning school bus transportation in Texas and how to maximize efficiencies and evaluate privatization plans. Examine school transportation issues including service models, the regulatory landscape, funding, school choice, data and technology, safety and environmental impact.
- Intellectual Property in Schools – Consider issues regarding the use of copyrighted material in school courses including “fair use” principles. Know and understand the law regarding ownership rights of teacher designed materials and the differences in those ownership rights when the material at issue is not “work made for hire”. Understand the practical limits on the enforceability of legal ownership on behalf of the school district. Know the process of establishing best practices in dealing with intellectual property issues.
- Financial Compliance Issues – Understand the financial management accountability metric for Texas public schools known as “School Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas” or FIRST. Become familiar with the Texas funding allotments for special programs. Know and understand the process of filing annual financial reports (AFR’s) with TEA.
- Budgeting and Budgetary Model Comparisons – Know the general description of a school district budget and understand strategies for decentralizing spending authority to schools, in keeping with good managerial practice and school-based accountability for student learning; calculating school budgets based on individual students and their educational needs; and developing strong information systems to support planning, monitoring, and evaluation of resource use. Study and understand strategies for reallocation of resources in alignment with reform efforts. Become familiar with the eight major budget types and the advantages and disadvantages of each. Learn strategies for analyzing current spending including educational production function, resource cost analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis, and cost-benefit analysis.
Course Credits: 4