The Olentangy Local School District has been providing updates on the various elements of its strategic plan over the span of several meetings. During last week’s Olentangy Board of Education meeting, Treasurer Emily Hatfield broke down the fourth component of the strategic plan — resource stewardship — to the board and those in attendance.
Resource stewardship is accompanied by internal processes, learning and organizational development, and students and stakeholders as the four pillars of the strategic plan towards realizing the district’s ultimate goal of facilitating maximum learning for every student. Three subcomponents, including managing assets wisely, model fiscal responsibility and transparency, and maximizing investments and revenue represent the three elements of resource stewardship.
Hatfield detailed a slew of key influencers that dictate how and what the treasurer’s department must report. Among the influencers are provisions of the Ohio Revised Code, nonprofit regulations, state audits, market rates and trends, and national, state, and local economics.
To maximize investments and revenue, Hatfield said the treasurer’s department is responsible for going through professional development and training, while also obtaining all investment certifications necessary for a treasurer.
“We have to, as the treasurer — and I also encourage our assistant treasurer — to make sure that we have all the certifications that a treasurer is required to have, by law, to invest public funds,” Hatfield said. “The reason we do this for not only myself but the assistant is to make sure that the district is covered should something happen where I’m not able to make a decision, we have someone who is licensed and able to make those decisions and move the district forward.”
Other factors of investments and revenue maximization include strategizing debt capacity, participating in Tax Incentive Financing projects, and negotiating Board of Revision and Board of Tax Appeals.
Moving forward, Hatfield said the department is currently working with Commerce Bank and PNC on revenue sharing programs. Hatfield highlighted debt consolidation and the refunding of bonds, creating revenue streams with the trademarking of the new district marks, as well as strategizing millage rate needs for future levy campaigns and continued investment portfolio planning as key elements to maximizing investments and revenue.
In order to manage assets wisely, Hatfield said her department has been planning for both short-term and long-term capital needs, creating an annual budget of all funds, and working towards enhancing a culture of fiscal responsibility with the staff.
Hatfield said of enhancing fiscal responsibility among staff, “Talking to staff members as they call with purchase order questions or with items they may be looking at buying, what’s the best use of funds, which fund you can use, how do you utilize what you have in your building to get the best bang your buck. These are conversations that we continue to have on an ongoing basis.”
Managing costs of employee benefits, cashflow management, and the development of procurement guidelines for federal programs were among the other components highlighted by Hatfield to demonstrate what the district is currently doing to ensure wise asset management.
Speaking on the importance of modeling fiscal responsibility and transparency, Hatfield called the component “a big concern” when talking about tax dollars. Hatfield said her department has redesigned the district’s forecast report in order to make it “a combination of visual tables and metrics for people who need to see that visualization” and more user-friendly overall.
The treasurer’s website has also been enhanced to include more information on how taxes are collected, how Ohio House Bill 920 affects taxes, and to keep the district’s financial reports easily accessible,” Hatfield said. She added there has been increased communication through community town hall meetings and coffee chats.
As for how they can get better in regard to fiscal transparency and responsibility, Hatfield said she is adamant about maintaining the accolades for fiscal reporting.
“I think it is very important to our community and to ourselves that we continue to maintain our GFOA Certification of Achievement for financial reporting,” Hatfield said. “We’ve had that certification for 20 years consecutively, so we’ll continue to maintain that. We’ve also received the Ohio Auditor of State Award with distinction for our clean audits, meaning that there’s no material weakness or items that need to be reported. We’ve gotten that award for the ninth consecutive year through Fiscal Year ‘20.”
Hatfield went on to say other goals moving forward include reviewing reporting documents with the Finance and Audit Committee, enhancing the treasurer website’s graphics and statistics, providing on-demand training for support groups and staff, and continued legislative advocacy to fully fund the Fair School Funding Plan.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.