March 9, 2018

In This E-Mail:

Administrative Certification for Chief Business Officials


We are following up on our email last week concerning calls and emails we have been receiving regarding a client letter issued by a law firm concerned about school business officials needing to have administrative certification in order to continue to be employed by a public school district or public school academy.

The law firm’s letter was prompted by a ruling by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) concerning a particular case where the title of an administrator who oversaw instructional programs was changed to try to side step the administrative certification requirement. MDE ruled that specific situation violated the certification requirement which resulted in a reduction of school aid. Note: that administrator was not a school business official, but there was concern that the ruling could be interpreted to apply to an individual acting as the “chief business official.”

MSBO has been working with the MDE and the law firm to address concerns outlined in the letter and spoke with Leah Breen, Director of Office of Professional Preparation Services (OPPS) to provide feedback and to obtain a further explanation of the possible impact on MSBO members, especially those that have the highest level of responsibility in the business/finance office. 

MDE issued further clarification Thursday via their MDE Weekly Communication, which included MEMO #038-17 with a link to the memorandum dated March 3, 2018 titled:

School Administrator Certification and Chief Business Officials

As you read the Memorandum and review the links for further information and guidance from MDE, you may find yourself having a hard time deciphering all the legalese. Following is an attempt to break it down for you:

If you were employed as a chief business official on or before January 4, 2010 and continue hold that position, you are required to complete continuing education requirements and obtain a “grand-parented” experience-based administrator certificate, which will allow MDE to track your required continuing education hours.

If you are currently employed as a chief business official, but were not employed in that position on January 4, 2010 and your primary responsibility is not administering instructional programs, you are not required to hold school administrator certification or to satisfy continuing education requirements.

To complicate things a bit, there is no definition of “chief business official” and the MDE memorandum issued February 23, 2017 and linked in the March 8, 2017 memorandum indicates (in not so many words), that if your title does not match the titles listed in the legislation (superintendent, principal, assistant principal, other positions with the primary responsibility of administering instructional programs, or chief business official) and you do not administer instructional programs, then the legislation determining certification requirements does not apply to you. In other words, you do not need a school administrator certification. This is the interpretation of MDE and has been our understanding for a long time. But that interpretation could change with a future State Superintendent or State Board of Education.

Grand-Parented Experienced-Based School Administrator Certificates
There is, however, an opportunity to gain an Administrative Certificate under a “grand-parented” provision for those employed prior to January 4, 2010. Even if your position is not specifically titled chief business official, we recommend you consider reviewing and potentially making application to cover yourself in the event the interpretations change in the future. MDE is offering this FREE OF CHARGE through September 1, 2018 for those eligible. For more information on the application process and eligibility requirements please see the information found on MDE's website here.
The link to the school administrator experienced-based certificate document will include information on:

  • Experience-Based Certification
    • To qualify for the NEW experience-based certificate, individuals employed as school administrators prior to January 4, 2010 must demonstrate completion of any combination of Education-related professional learning hours totaling 150 hours in the five preceding years.
  • Legal Requirements
  • School Administrator Certification Code Requirements
    • Require demonstration of eligibility for the experience-based provision through evidence of employment as an administrator on or before January 4, 2010;
    • Require and authorize school administrators to maintain professional learning hours in MOECS for ease of tracking and certificate renewal; and
    • Provide all school administrators who obtain a School Administrator Certificate a new five-year cycle on the continuing education requirement.
  • Effective/Implementation Date
    • The initial School Administrator Experience-Based Certificate for qualifying school administrators will be issued without a fee, from January 1, 2018 through September 1, 2018.
    • Beginning September 2, 2018 an application processing fee of $160 will be charged.
  • Failure to employ a certified, or permitted, individual may result in State aid deduction.
  •  Administrators unable to meet these requirements and obtain the School Administrator Certificate before September 1 can be employed under the new Administrator Permit.

We have agreed to work with MDE to provide feedback on the issue now and as needed in the future.

As indicated in the memorandum, for further information, you can contact Leah Breen at the Office of Educator Workforce at or 517-241-1392. You may also contact Bob Dwan ( or David Martell ( at 517-327-5920.

Federal Awards Procedures Manual


Please see the revised Business Office Procedures and Federal Awards Administration Manual that has been posted to the MSBO Library. MDE along with a MSBO Committee Sub-Group has reviewed the final format and updated it for Uniform Guidance changes and Federal regulation citations. This document is intended to be used as a starting point for your district specific procedures and has been posted in Word format for your use.

Thank you again to Stephanie Murray of TBAISD and Louis Burgess of MDE for their assistance in leading this project.

You received this e-mail as a member of MSBO. MSBO is a professional organization that provides programs and services to those in school business. MSBO promotes the highest standards of school business management practices and provides professional growth opportunities to achieve the most effective use of resources in the education of children.

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Lansing, Michigan 48917 • Ph: 517.327.5920 • Fax: 517.327.0768