1 SECTION 1 Page 1 of 2 PUBLIC AND NON-PUBLIC FUNDS The funds maintained at the local schools can generally be divided into two major categories: public and non-public. Various factors must be considered in determining the proper classification, which affects the degree of expenditure restriction. Public funds - restricted to the same legal requirements as Board funds: Examples: 1. General may consist of vending machine commissions, proceeds from school fundraisers (school pictures, coupon books, etc.), student parking, appropriations from the Board, interest income, and other miscellaneous revenues. Its primary purpose is to pay for the general operations of the school and is totally controlled by the Principal. 2. Library accounts for late charges on returned library books, funds collected for lost library books, and expenditures incurred for purchasing library books. 3. Athletic may consist of income from gate receipts, parking at athletic events, advertising commissions, game program sales, and donations from athletic booster clubs. Separate accounts may be established for individual sports, if desired. Expenditures include athletic uniforms, equipment, and supplies; membership dues to athletic organizations; registration fees for coaching clinics; travel and transportation; game officials, and, expenditures related to athletic events, including expenses for practicing and preparing for athletic competitions and exhibitions. 4. Concession and Student Vending may consist of concessions operated by the school at athletic events and vending machines or concessions for students operated at the school during the school day. 5. Fees school imposed course fees for certain non-required academic courses, field trips, workbooks, and supplemental instructional materials. These funds are used to cover the costs associated with the course or purpose for which the funds are collected. 6. Locker Fees funds collected from students that are used to cover the costs associated with maintaining the student lockers. 7. Faculty Vending consists of funds collected and used for items sold in faculty lounge areas that, although not assessable to students or the public, are totally controlled by the Principal. (See Section 4 - Vending Machines). Allowable expenditures from public funds include: 1. Professional development training. 2. Refreshments expended for an open house at a school where the public would attend. 3. Pregame meals for student athletes and coaches. 4. Academic incentives for students. 5. Athletic and band uniforms for students to participate in school activities. 6. Memberships in professional organizations. 7. School landscaping, maintenance, furnishings, and decorations. Funds received from public (tax) sources or used for public purposes are public funds subject to the control of the school principal.
2 SECTION 1 Page 2 of 2 Non-Public funds - restricted for expenditures subject to the intent and authorization of the organization s sponsors and officers and not used for general operations of the school. The principal does not direct the use of these funds but does have the authority to prohibit inappropriate expenditures. Examples: 1. Clubs and Classes Student organizations may have self-imposed fees but not academic course fees. The participants often impose their own fees for participation in these clubs and classes. These student organizations often conduct fund raising events. Clubs and classes include FBLA, Senior Class, Student Government, Spanish Club, Cheerleaders, Band, Show Choir, Beta Club, National Honor Society, Key Club, etc. Student organizations are self-governed by officers elected by the participants. 2. Other School Related Organizations Parent or parent/teacher organizations can have the organization s funds in the school accounts. These organizations are governed by officers elected by its members. PTO, PTA, Band Boosters, and various athletic booster support groups are considered school related organizations. (See Section 7 - Guidelines for School Related Organizations). Some of the expenditures that are not allowable purchases from public funds but may be allowable expenditures from non-public funds include: 1. Food for social gatherings. 2. Class prom entertainment. 3. T-shirts for club members or faculty. 4. Donations to various organizations. 5. Transfers to other non-public accounts. 6. Travel expenses to club events. 7. Championship rings. 8. Faculty appreciation gifts. 9. Scholarships. 10. Flowers for funerals. [However, the State Ethics Law limits purchases for school employees and their families.] NOTE: Non-public funds can become subject to the same expenditure restrictions as public funds if the accounting records do not maintain a separate account for each of the non-public funds.
3 SECTION 6 Page 2 of 2 Academic Incentives Amendment 558 of the Alabama Constitution permits the use of public funds to promote educational excellence by students. Students may receive food items (but not foods of minimal nutritional value), school supplies, admissions, T-shirts publicizing school academic accomplishments, and other provide tangible incentives for attendance, honor rolls, test scores, and other academic achievements. Academic excellence may also be recognized with plaques, trophies, and award banquets. Academic incentives with a significant monetary value may be provided to a group of students or by selecting individual recipients. (Scholarships and tuition for programs outside of the school s academic program are not permitted.) By preparing and following formal incentive award procedures a school can minimize auditor questions and public scrutiny when the incentive recipients are announced. Procedures for providing academic incentives with a significant monetary value to students should be established before the incentive recipient is determined and should include: 1. Action required for a student to receive an incentive. 2. Relationship of the required action to educational excellence. 3. Description of the planned incentives. (Laptop, cash, gift card, etc.) 4. Value of planned incentives, if known. 5. Process for determining the incentive recipients. Academic incentives, whether purchased with school funds or donated by other entities or private sources, should be secured until provided to the incentive recipients. The student receiving the incentive should sign a form documenting the student s receipt of the academic incentive, excluding those items of insignificant value. The school official that is giving the incentive to the student, along with a witness should also sign and date the form.
4 SECTION 8 Page 1 of 3 STUDENT PAYMENTS Student Fees State laws and administrative rules of the State Board of Education restrict the collection of fees from students: Alabama Code Fees for courses. It is the intent of the Legislature that no fees shall be collected in the future in courses required for graduation. In courses not required for graduation, local school boards may set reasonable fees for courses requiring laboratory and shop materials and equipment, provided, however, that such fees shall be waived for students who cannot afford to pay the fee. Any funds collected in fees shall be spent on the course for which the fee was levied. This section shall not be construed to prohibit community groups or clubs from fundraising activities, provided, however, that students shall not be required to participate in such fundraising activities. Alabama Code 16-6B-2 Core curriculum. (a) The following words and phrases used in this section shall, in the absence of a clear implication otherwise, be given the following respective interpretations: (1) REQUIRED COURSES. Courses which are required to be taken by every student enrolled in public schools in the State of Alabama. Alabama Code Incidental fees in elementary schools. No fees of any kind shall be collected from children attending any of the first six grades during the school term supported by public taxation; provided, that any county or city board of education shall be authorized to permit any school subject to its supervision to solicit and receive from such children or their parents or guardians voluntary contributions to be used for school purposes by the school where such children are attending; provided further, that the provisions of this section shall in no way affect or restrict the right or power of a school board to fix and collect tuition fees or charges from pupils attending schools under the jurisdiction of such board but who live outside the territory over which such board has jurisdiction. AAR Driver Education. (a) No fee shall be charged any child whose family is unable to pay the fee. (b) Thirty dollars ($30) per student, per semester, is the maximum driver education fee to be charged by local boards of education without approval from the State Superintendent of Education. (c) The State Superintendent of Education may approve a higher fee upon the request of a local superintendent approved by the local board of education with sufficient documentation of actual costs in excess of the maximum. (d) Each board of education shall establish criteria by which the ability of families to pay the fee may be determined and submit same to the State Superintendent of Education for approval. (e) Local boards of education shall take reasonable steps to insure that students for whom no fee is required shall not be identified. In reading the guidance above, it can be noted that academic fees during the regular school term (excluding driver education) may only be charged for materials and equipment used in instructional courses, and that the fees collected may only be used in the course for which the fee was collected. Actions against a non-paying student, such as withholding grades, report cards, transcripts, academic recognitions, and graduation activities, are prohibited. However, state laws governing textbooks may require the withholding of additional textbooks for a student due to unpaid lost or damaged textbook fines. (See Alabama Code ).
5 SECTION 8 Page 2 of 3 Donations and Voluntary Contributions Voluntary contributions may be requested for various items purchased by the school that are used by students in academic courses and classes including workbooks, supplemental instructional materials, lockers, sheet music, and other academic purposes. The voluntary nature of the contribution must be clearly stated in the request for the contributions. Nonpayment of requested contributions cannot be used against a student and the student must be provided the same instructional items as if payment was made on behalf of the student. Donations may be requested for specific school purchases, including janitorial products, cleaning supplies, paper products, copier expenses, software maintenance, and other school purposes. The voluntary nature of the donation must be clearly stated in the request for the donation. Non-payment of requested donations cannot be used against a student and the student must be provided the same instructional items as if payment was made on behalf of the student. Donations may be requested for general school purposes, including communication services, additional personnel services approved by the school board, playground upkeep, equipment, maintenance, student lunches, etc. The voluntary nature of the donation must be clearly stated in the request for the donation and a student must be provided the same instructional items as if payment was made on behalf of the student. Schools that allow events during the school day that charge admission to students should provide admission to a non-paying student to avoid subjecting the student to embarrassment or ridicule. Teachers have no authority to request or accept student fees, contributions, or donations without the approval of the principal, unless directed by the local superintendent. The principal or the local superintendent should approve requests to collect school fees, contributions, and donations. Actions taken against a student for non-payment of student fees, contributions, or donations including the withholding of grades, report cards, transcripts, diplomas, honor rolls, participation in graduation events and student recognition events, membership in honors organizations, and other actions that would subject the student to embarrassment or ridicule, are prohibited. The local school board office can provide guidance on collections from students for meals, snacks, and refreshments; library fines; student parking; charges for participating in extra-curricular activities; summer school; day care; weekend, before school and after school programs; dual enrollment programs; tutoring; and, requests for donations from school vendors.
6 SECTION 8 Page 3 of 3 Field Trips Teachers often request approval to take students off campus during the school day as enhancement of academic content in fulfilling the course curriculum. Voluntary contributions may be requested to pay the costs of transportation, meals, or admission charges. The voluntary nature of the contribution must be clearly stated in the request for the field trip costs. Non-payment of requested contributions cannot be used against a student and the student must be provided the same participation as if payment was made on behalf of the student. Field trips during the school day cannot generate a profit but may establish a per student amount that exceeds the individual student costs to provide the funds for the non-paying students, if the costs for the non-paying students are not paid by private sources or non-public school funds. Additional costs should be considered in establishing the per student field trip amount to accommodate for special needs students. Documents providing information about the field trip to parents and guardians should include information on the disposition of excess field trip funds paid for the students including the cancellation or postponement of the field trip; a student s inability to participate in the field trip due to absence, illness, or disciplinary action; and, requirements to receive a refund for the field trip payment. The local school board office can provide guidance on student meals, transportation, and approval procedures. School board policies may place limitations and restrictions on school field trips. Student trips that extend overnight, are held outside of school hours, or are held on a day that school is not in session are considered extra-curricular activities. Generally, extra-curricular activities are not subject to the requirement to provide participation for non-paying students.
7 SECTION 7 Page 1 of 3 GUIDELINES FOR SCHOOL-RELATED ORGANIZATIONS The majority of public K-12 schools in Alabama operate under the accreditation standards of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS/CASI). The Accreditation Standards 2005 published by SACS/CASI includes in Standard 2 Governance and Leadership 2.4 the following requirement: In fulfillment of this standard, the leadership of the school Controls all activities, including extra-curricular, that are sponsored by the school. This publication also provides in Standard 6 Financial Resources 6.15 the following requirement: In fulfillment of this standard, the school Controls all funds raised in the name of the school. Interpretations of these standards, primarily Standard 6.15, have created conflicting guidance from various sources relating to the accounting requirements for school-related organizations. In addition to the requirements of SACS/CASI, the Alabama Department of Education must also consider other factors in providing these Guidelines for School-Related Organizations, including: State laws giving the authority to establish financial and administrative requirements for local schools to the: o State Superintendent of Education. o State Board of Education. o Local Boards of Education. o Department of Examiners of Public Accounts. Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB). o Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. o GASB Statement No. 14 The Fiscal Reporting Entity. o GASB Statement No. 39 Determining Whether Certain Organizations Are Component Units. Federal legislation. o Internal Revenue Service. o Congressionally Chartered Organizations. The determination that a particular club or organization is a school activity must be made on a case-by-case basis according to the actual facts and circumstances of the club or organization s operations at a school. The fact that an organization would not exist without the school it supports has no bearing on determining that the organization is a school activity. However, the purpose of these Guidelines for School-Related Organizations are to assist these organizations, school officials, school bookkeepers, auditors, and other agencies in determining the proper accounting for school-related organizations.
8 SECTION 7 Page 2 of 3 Student Organizations Student clubs and classes are usually recognized as school activities. The student officers and faculty sponsor operate the organization while the school principal acts in a fiduciary capacity over the organization s funds. The school s accounting records contain a separate account to record the financial operations of each student organization. Income from the student organization is recorded by receipts and deposited in the school bank account. The school principal approves the purchase orders, signs the checks, and maintains the supporting documents for the expenditures. Some organizations consisting of students from the school may not be school activities. Some students belong to social organizations that operate off-campus. Community recreation leagues may consist solely of the school s students and operate under other entities that are not under the control of the school. Although the activities of these organizations may benefit the school s students, these organizations have a separate employer identification number (EIN), a separate mailing address, and maintain their own records and accounts. Athletics School athletics are extra-curricular activities that must be under the control of the school principal. Coaches and other school employees cannot maintain a separate bank account that supports, or benefits from, a school extra-curricular activity. Funds received to support an athletic activity at a school from sponsors, vendors, or other sources must be included in the school s financial records under the fiduciary control of the school principal. Funds from gate receipts and other sources may be recorded in one or more separate accounts for a particular sport in the school s financial records. However, a separate account for each sport is not required. When athletic events are held on locations other than school property, the school principal s control over the financial operations of the event, including ticket sales, concessions, and parking fees, will be determined by agreement with the entity in control of the event location. Parent Organizations Parent and parent/teacher organizations provide a vital role in the education of students. In Alabama public schools, the PTA and the PTO are the most common parent organizations. Many parent organizations join a national organization that serves the individual school organizations. Each of the national organizations publishes guidance for the financial operations of the individual school organizations. These organizations must have a separate employer identification number (EIN) and a separate mailing address in order to maintain their own records and accounts outside the control of the school. However, these organizations will become school activities if: a) Both parties mutually assent to the fiduciary control of the principal, b) A school employee leads fund-raising or maintains the accounting records for the organization.
9 SECTION 7 Page 3 of 3 Booster Organizations All school sponsored extra-curricular activities must be under control of the school. However, booster organizations are often formed to support the operations of these activities in a variety of ways. While providing additional financial support for a particular extracurricular activity, the volunteers in the booster organizations also enhance community support that often extends to benefit all of the students at a school. Because some of the activities of a booster organization may be intertwined with the extra-curricular activity it supports, some of the organization s activities may be under the control of the school principal while other functions of the same booster organization are not school activities. The determination that a particular booster organization is a school activity must be made on a case-by-case basis according to the actual facts and circumstances of the organization s operations at a school. These organizations must have a separate employer identification number (EIN) and a separate mailing address in order to maintain their own records and accounts outside the control of the school. However, these organizations will become school activities if: a) Both parties mutually assent to the fiduciary control of the principal, b) A school employee, who is associated with the activity supported by the booster organization, serves/holds a leadership position in the organization, or, c) A school employee leads fund-raising or maintains the accounting records for the organization. Specific activities of a booster organization may come under the control of a school principal if: a) The organization collects admission to the school function, b) The organization operates a concession operation on school property at the school function, c) The organization collects parking fees for the school function, d) The organization operates a training camp that includes students of the activity it supports, or e) The organization operates an exhibition or competition that includes students of the activity it supports. Specific Requirements Parent organizations and booster organizations that maintain financial operations outside the control of the school could create a negative image for the school by failing to maintain proper accounting controls. Accountability for the funds these organizations control includes an agreement that: a) The organization has obtained an employer identification number from the IRS. b) The organization provides a report of the annual audit of the organization to the school. c) The organization makes its financial records available to the school s auditors and authorized school employees upon request. d) The organization provides required financial reports. e) The organization provides proof of a fidelity bond for the treasurer. f) The organization will not provide any payment or benefit to a school employee (or family member of a school employee) in violation of the State Ethics Law.
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