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Rekindling Connections Between HR and Finance in Schools: Funding Distribution


The realization that a school is also a business is right up there with the day I found out that teachers don’t actually live in the classroom. There’s this notion that passion and pragmatism are inherently two separate things, but in a lot of ways these two elements of life find a natural intersection in the education world.

While teachers often teach because they love it, and administrators are frequently former teachers who advanced through the ranks, there’s also the necessity to learn and apply business skills to ensure success from classroom to business operations. It’s hard to conceive of this passion-driven operation as a pragmatic company that thrives when students succeed. However, without passion and pedagogy schools revert to just buildings; without solid practices and processes schools become more likely to fail financially (no matter how much love and creativity is fostered under those roofs).

So, even though Human Resources and Finance functions can feel drastically different, it’s never been more important to rekindle the connections between the two to best serve students.

How Does Funding Distribution Connect HR and Finance?

As you know, every dollar that comes into a school district has a string attached; meaning that if it came through a grant for hardware, then it has to be spent on hardware. Money can’t easily be reallocated from, let’s say, transportation over to a cafeteria spend.

Schools also have tons of cash flowing in and out of the system daily from activities, fines, clubs, etc. How does the business office track and manage all the fluctuations in funding versus spending day in and day out while simultaneously keeping student success at the forefront?

District business office professionals are responsible for reconciling statements throughout the year and ensuring that each and every dollar has been handled responsibly. So far this is all on the financial side of the house… what does this have to do with HR?

Let’s look at an example.

The school year is off to an awesome start. Orientation went off without a hitch. Students are scheduled and accounted for. What can possibly go wrong?

Well, Tina in the English department has to go out on medical leave starting tomorrow, and it’s more complicated than just finding a sub. She’s also the cheerleading coach, manages detention on Tuesdays and tutoring on Wednesdays. Did I mention that she has her Master’s degree and 10 years of experience in the district?

What does this do to your budget?

Is it really as simple as covering her shift?

Will any of your efforts to pick up her responsibilities be apples to apples (financially)?

Situations like this crop up in schools across the nation all the time and it doesn’t have to become an impossible equation. When school district HR and Finance teams are on the same page with funding distribution and budget code management, you suddenly have access to real-time financial information as you navigate challenges year-round. “Tina” leaving suddenly doesn’t put your district in a compromising spot financially because you know all the information associated with how her position was paid for including:

  • Fund
  • Function
  • Object
  • Sub-Object
  • Organization Program Intent

When HR is empowered to be effective stewards of district resources with real-time budget information, they can move swiftly to make sure that they’re filling vacancies that are budgeted for and approved. Reconciliation becomes easier on the backend when you’re proactively problem-solving instead of in a constant state of emergency and reaction.

That’s why districts that want to be nimble enough to stay ahead of financial roadblocks are getting Human Resources and Finance more connected through funding distribution, budget code and accounting code block practices that are designed for the nuances of K-12.

In case you missed the first installment of this series, you can check it out here:

Rekindling Connections Between HR and Finance in Schools: Position Management

Nichelle Smith

Nichelle Smith is a Sr. Product Marketing Manager for Frontline Education. With her Master's degree in Education and being a former educator, Nichelle loves to explore all things "edtech"!

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