The idea of the audit can invite stress, and it’s understandable to feel daunted by the need to address compliance and other issues while you’re focused on the day-to-day aspects of growing a school. The Charter School Audits Guide Preparing Your School for the Annual Audit offers month-by-month breakdowns schools can use to stave off overwhelm. The key is preparing a little bit at a time.
Here’s what the plan looks like:
As seen in the chart above, month one is dedicated to the fiscal audit overall. That’s because month one is when schools have just completed the previous year’s audit, so first steps are about how to move forward from there.
For a detailed look at previous months, click the links below:
In Month 6, it’s time to take a look at your school’s budget. While this can feel like a daunting task, it’s an essential part of ensuring your school’s financial health.
Here’s a checklist you can use when examining your budget:
✔️ Check Your State Authorizer or Association for Yearly Milestones
- Each state Authorizer or Association typically publishes a table of yearly milestones, so make sure to get a copy
✔️ Prepare Authorizer Templates and Worksheets
- Use templates and worksheets provided by your Authorizer to ensure that your budget is in compliance with all regulations and requirements
- Double-check your calculations and make sure all relevant information is included
✔️ Review Your Fiscal Year-End Budget
- Take a close look at your fiscal year-end budget and compare it to actual expenses
- Identify any discrepancies or areas where expenses were higher than expected, and make note of any adjustments you need to make in the future
✔️ Review Each Department’s Budget and Expenses
- Evaluate each department’s budget and expenses, including Academics, SPED, Accounting, Facilities, HR, Finance, Recruiting, Marketing, Volunteers, etc.
- Look for areas where you can reduce expenses or allocate resources more efficiently
✔️ Finalize Your Budget for the Next Fiscal Year
- Make sure your budget for the next fiscal year is finalized and submitted by the July 1 deadline
- Use the information you gathered from your fiscal audit to inform your budget planning for the upcoming year
Bonus: Create a 5-Year Forecast for Growth and Facilities Planning
- If you want to take extra care in this area, consider creating a 5-year forecast to use for growth and facilities planning
- This will showcase your dedication to your school’s long-term success and help you make informed decisions about resource allocation
By following these tips and being proactive about your school’s budget, you can ensure that your school is financially stable and well-positioned for growth and success. Remember to involve your team members in the process and seek guidance from your Authorizer and Back Office Provider as needed.
Want to take a closer look at the month-by-month audit prep plan? Download The Charter School Audits Guide Preparing Your School for the Annual Audit, a free guide for charter leaders.