By: Thomas L. Armstrong, CPA, CFO, MSBO Board President, Director of Business and Operations, Fulton Schools
School business management has changed since I entered the profession nearly 25 years ago. Some of the challenges we faced are similar to what school business officials face today. There still isn’t enough per pupil funding, increases in retirement rates hurt district budgets, and the constant increase in health insurance benefits are just a few of those similar challenges. What has changed is finding a next generation of qualified school business officials.
My employment path was not uncommon. I started out at a not-for-profit, moved on to a CPA firm, and ended up landing a school job because of the connections I made in my career path. With good pay and excellent benefits, it was an upgrade for my career and family. Life was good! Today, many districts struggle to find business officials who have the many skills needed to help serve as a leader and guide a school district.
The demographics of our industry are changing, and one challenge districts have is ensuring that employees get the training and experience they need to excel in their role as a school business official. The business manager job requires juggling numerous hats in a district. It is not just building budgets and processing payroll.
Over the years, the MSBO Board has discussed ways that MSBO could help support districts in developing, and mentoring prospective and new staff for business office positions. The end result was the creation of the MSBO Business Manager Academy – a concept spearheaded by MSBO Past President Mike Hagerty.
This program is designed to develop the next generation of school business officials and is offered in a year-long format to train and mentor individuals through the annual cycle of a school business office. It is designed for those who want to gain in-depth, practical, “hands-on” working knowledge in school finance. MSBO has partnered with skilled past and present business managers to share their knowledge and experience in school finance.
The bottom line is that districts need to invest in new employees with training and professional development. We have all had the experience of implementing a new general ledger or payroll system and getting it set up to do the basic job, but not training everyone to fully integrate all the possible roles they may fill in a district. Business officials generally have a lengthy career in the same district due to the consistency. Investing in their knowledge will pay dividends for years to come.
Applications are being accepted right now for the 2020-21 Academy. To get more details on the curriculum and download an application, click here: https://www.msbo.org/about-business-manager-academy.
The success of the Business Manager Academy – more than 100 MSBO members have participated in the Academy over the last three years – means developing a workforce to help Michigan schools now and into the future. The Academy is a great opportunity to invest in staff and help grow their skills. It is another way MSBO is hoping to improve the skills and knowledge of business officials in Michigan.
Other Articles in this Newsletter
- So Long and Thanks for All the Fish!
- MSBO Annual Conference – Early Bird Registration Is Open
- Get to Know Your MSBO 2020 Board of Directors Candidates
- Are You an Emerging School Business Leader?
- Registration Open for 2020-21 Business Manager Academy
- Mark Your Calendar for These Upcoming Events
- Welcome New MSBO Members