2009 Candidate for Director
Randy C. Evans, RSBO
Executive Director of Finance
Rio Rancho Public School District No. 94
Rio Rancho, New Mexico
Question and Answer Forum
The Educational component of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has four basic guiding principles. One of them is to ensure transparency and accountability in spending of the dollars. As school business officials move forward to implement ARRA, what would be some key elements to consider to ensure transparency and accountability within school districts?
Randy Evans Answer 1:
As we take a look at ensuring transparency and accountability, we should look at how Merriam Webster defines these terms. Transparency means the state of being free from pretense or deceit. Synonyms include open, frank, guileless. Within schools districts, this could go a multitiude of directions. I would like to focus on just a couple - programs and people. Transparency in the area of programs must mean that when educators propose a new program it can be fully understood and clearly identifies the desired benefit for children so that anybody (including non-educators) evaluating the program would be able to see and explain its benefits. As for people, transparency means business managers operating with ethics, character, and an openness to all of how the funds are being used.
Accountability is the quality or state of being accountable, liable, or responsible. School districts are being entrusted with large amounts of money to maintain and enhance the public education systems of America. We must be able to show marked improvements and sustainable program enhancements that do not burden a district with ongoing reoccurring expenditures. School districts will need to be able to answer to their State Education Departments with clear defensible reasons for how the funds have been used. Districts will need to develop systems that can correlate student achievement gains with funds spent on certain programs. Local school district’s can show true transparency and accountability by posting these results in a section on their web pages of stimulus fund expenditures and programmatic uses.
The Federal Government expects transparency and accountability that will ensure the most effective and efficient use of the ARRA funds. When the two years of Federal funding from ARRA comes to an end, public education across the nation will have needed to have made a lasting difference that will be visable to the american taxpayer and an amenable use of funds.
Knowing that ARRA funding is a one time investment, how best could school business officials maximize short term investments for lasting results while minimizing unsustainable ongoing commitments?
Randy Evans Answer 2:
The ARRA funding for the next two years is intended to allow public education to help stablize school districts during this economic downturn and to improve educational programs that can move America’s educational system back into a competitive position on a world-wide basis.
School business officials can help maximize the ARRA funding while minimizing unsustainable ongoing commitments by focusing on programs that have been needed to assist current educational staff to move student achievement to a new level, but that have lacked the one-time funding to make that happpen. I envision school business officials and ASBO International being leaders in the research for assessment and data warehousing tools and new instructional programs. How can we help teachers individualize their approach to teaching each student and their respective needs? Our role as business officials is to effectively manage the funds entrusted to us and be consistent in our message and treatment of this one-time investment in public education. When these funds run out school business officials will be called upon to suggest ways that maintain the programs that are having an impact while eliminating those “sacred cow” programs that have been favorites, but have not produced the academic gains desired for the money spent.
We must be looking for ways to make clear “value added” analysis to be able to prioritize our expenditures in the future. I believe these next two to three years will give public education its greatest opportunity to realize educational improvements for America’s youth, or it could be our greatest failure if the ARRA funds are used with no significant gain in public education.
How best can ASBO International position itself to be the leader in school business management?
Randy Evans Answer 3:
ASBO has already made great strides in positioning itself as the leader in school business management. ASBO is leading the way in these difficult economic times and helping school districts prepare not only for the current infusion of ARRA funds, but also for the more distant future when the ARRA funds run out. ASBO is uniquely able to provide insight into how a school district must develop and manage its resources when economic conditions become more favorable or if financial strains on states remain.
ASBO must continue to use its position of influence with the Department of Education. ASBO can work with the State Affiliates while maintaining strong associations and support services to local school districts. ASBO’s annual conferences need to continue to provide the industry’s most current and relevant information to help business managers keep up with the ever-changing and challenging demands of school business.
I envision ASBO continuing as the respected leader in school business management and to utilize three popular Laws of Leadership as described by author John C. Maxwell. Those three laws are the Law of Influence, Navigation and Priorities. The Law of Influence tells us that “If you don’t have influence, you will never be able to lead others”. ASBO has demonstrated for many years that it has influence on policy and decision makers. We must continue to work closely with GASB, the IRS and the U.S. Department of Education as they set policies and regulations. As for the Law of Navigation, “A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others do.” (Leroy Eims). This is what ASBO is and how it has positioned itself for its membership and the school business professional. ASBO is constantly charting the course and looking to the future of school business management When it comes to the Law of Priorities, leaders understand that activity is not necessarily accomplishment. ASBO must set its priorities and stay focused on its goals. As an organization it must get out of its comfort zone and must also focus its priorities on where its strengths are.
ASBO can best position itself to lead by staying true to the leadership it provides and leadership principles it has followed for almost 100 years.