" . . . consistent practices and terminology are critical to accountability for government funds. The accounting methods must be capable of producing financial reports that conform with GAAP and with the legal requirements of each state."
Financial Accounting for Local and State School Systems (2003).

man upsetKeeping tabs on monies spent is a critical portion of your budgeting responsibility - - knowing how much money you have spent and how much is left to spend in the fiscal year. Its almost like your checkbook except that if money is not spent by a certain deadline, you lose the ability to spend it.

Unspent money from most budget funds are returned to the general account at the school system level at the end of every school year. Except for a few special and rare situations, monies not spent during a fiscal year will not be available for your use the next budget year.

What are account ledgers?

Account ledgers record expenditures that have been made and help in the periodic process of balancing accounts. Ledgers were once handwritten, but today they can be easily kept on a computerized spreadsheet using software programs such MS Excel and Quicken.

Although your school may provide you with direct access to the school budget records, it's a good idea to maintain your own system also.

A ledger account works much like your own checking account record, when you write a check you record information. When you create a purchase order or requisition, you record to whom the order was place, what items were sought, how much was spent, the date the order was initiated, etc.

Different than your personal checking account, here the amount recorded for the purchase order and sent to the company and the company’s invoice sent back to your school system for payment for that order are usually different. These differences occur because some items requested were not in stock, shipping and handling charges were added, and/or price changes occurred. A column on your account ledger must be reserved to show the final “real” total cost of the order. Purchase order and invoice charges vary, so account ledgers must be updated in order to not overspend.

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How do I check my records against the schools accounts?

In many schools, all budget records are now available through the school's Intranet or internal network. In some cases, individuals responsible for particular areas of the budget will receive periodic emails reminding them to check the accuracy of records.

In some schools, your school library media center will receive a monthly budget printout for your accounts each month. Your center budget records should be updated and balanced with this printout. When this is done consistently, you can confidently know the remaining balances in all library media accounts. Check to see if you are overspending in any category of your budget.

Comparing/Contrasting Account Ledgers with Monthly Printout

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What are budgeting methods?

There are several broad types or methods used for school library budgets. Among the most common are the lump sum budget, line item budget, and program budget. Briefly, they are described as:

Lump Sum Budget. Historically widely used, today lump sum budgets are rare. A lump sum budget is used when the principal would inform the librarian that they have a specific amount of money to operate the library for the entire year. The amount is not broken into expenditure areas and very little accountability is attached. A lump sum probably indicates little concern for the library media program. The lump sum budget does allow a conscientious and skilled library media specialist to totally decide its effective use.

Line Item Budget. Line item budgets are based on expenditure types such as supplies, equipment, maintenance, or salaries. One might compare it to a personal checking account. An item budget allows less flexibility and controls the expenses necessary for center operation. The degree of accountability is slightly increased, and spending is not connected to identified needs or goals.

Program Budget. A budget that relates expenditures to the programs they fund as opposed to the expenditure type (Line Item above). The emphasis of a program budget is on output or benefits provided by each program. Library media specialists include written statements of justification for items (or groups of items). These statements identify how the item(s) will help achieve library media program objectives. Records from previous years are generally used to project new budgets.

These and other types of budget processes are used to formulate and administer budgets. General practices sometimes combine aspects of these budgeting methods. Often elements of a program budgeting method are required in planning and the results are converted to a line item budget for administering and accounting.

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What are the key terms?

Budgeting is full of interesting vocabulary. However we've selected a few terms that are essential to your budget discussions.

Accounts Payable Voucher. Form authorizing payment for goods, must be accompanied by itemized bill or invoice.

Bid. Process securing competitive price quotations for supplies, materials, and equipment. Often limited to purchases over a certain amount. Notice of bids are published and acceptance of a bid constitutes a contract.

Encumbrance. Obligation in the form of purchase order, contract, or salary commitment that guarantees funds for a purchase.

Equipment items. A reusable inventory item or system (may be defined by a certain minimum cost)

Fiscal Year. A school system’s budget year: i.e., July 1st to June 30th or Jan. 1 to Dec. 31st. Check / verify with employer institution.

Operating Budget. A plan of proposed expenditures for personnel, supplies, and other expenses for the coming fiscal year.

Purchasing. Department that handles the paperwork and accounting (within Business Office).

Purchase Order. Order form for specific supplies, materials, equipment, goods and services - - spending money on paper, encumbering the amount entered on the requisition/purchase order.

Requisition. Request form to purchase specific items.

Specifications. A written description of the material, equipment, or service being purchased.

Supplies and Materials. Consumable items; i.e., ink cartridges, paper, pens, etc.

Quotation. Price quotation for supplies, materials, and equipment.

eye means readOpen the Appendix section (PDF document) of the Indiana Public School Corporations Manual – Reissued 2008. Examine sample forms for Requisition (Exhibit A) and Purchase Order (Exhibit B).

This document is also referred to as the “Accounting and Uniform Compliance Guidelines Manual for Indiana Public School Corporations."

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What are funds and fund accounting?

A school system's budget is divided into separate funds for the purpose of control and separation of various expenditure areas.

Use the following publication as a reference:
Indiana Public School Corporation Manual from the Indiana State Board of Accounts.
The accounting system detailed in the Manual is intended to cover fund and appropriation accounting by program for any public school corporation in Indiana.

Fund. A fund is money designated for specific school activities and for accounting funds are identified by a three digit number

The General Fund, which is the largest of all the funds, is established for controlling most of the operating expenses of the school corporation.  Included in the General Fund are appropriations for salaries and fringe benefits, instructional supplies, maintenance supplies, utilities, insurance, summer programs, and community service programs.

These examples of fund numbers are excerpted from the “Part 3: Funds and Fund Accounting” of the Indiana State Board of Accounts:

0100 General Fund
0350 Capital Projects Fund
1910 School Library Printed Material
3100 Instruction Support Fund
3190 Education Technology
3800 Construction, Remodeling, and Equipping Buildings Fund
4100 Title I, P.L. 107-110 IASA

In addition to the fund and program account numbering structure, each transaction is also identified by a three digit “Object” number  - 100 through 700. Object numbering examples may be along these lines:

100        Personal Services - Salaries
110             Certified Salaries
120             Noncertified Salaries
200         Personal Services - Employee Benefits
210             Retirement
220             Employee Insurance
225             Workers Compensation Insurance
300         Purchased Services
400         Supplies and Materials

The first three digits, an object number, is combined with the correct four or five digit fund number to yield an applied eight digit account number; for example:

General Fund - Elementary, Regular Instruction 0100-11100

In Indiana, the above account numbering system is applied across the state with many designations standard, but some variance does occur because of local interpretation and initiatives by school business officers, administrators, and teacher librarians. For greater detail, examine the “Funds and Funds Accounting” section of the Indiana Public School Corporation Manual.

Bottom line, a fund can be created if there are dollars to be placed in it. And be certain you know which funds will carry over from year-to-year (fiscal year) and which have a finite ending date.

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What are budget year-end activities?

As the fiscal budget year draws to an end, make sure that you keep in mind any and all deadlines (i.e., last date for requisitions, date that all orders must be completed etc.).

Check to see that all paperwork is turned in such as invoices, receipts, packing slips, etc.

Check to see that all encumbered monies are cleared through the business office and/or any encumbered money will carry over to pay for ordered but not yet delivered/received items.

At some point, an end-of-the-year or fiscal year budget summary report should be completed. Tie in the record of equipment, materials, services, and supplies purchased to the curriculum and library center goals.

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What are final suggestions?

Accounting can be a mess. Keep careful records of where your money is being spent and how much you have left. Remember if you don't spend your budget, it will probably be gone next year. Use the following guidelines for accounting.

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