We are almost at the end of 2015 and it won’t be long until 2016 switches into full gear. As you prepare for the finalisation of the 2015 financial year and look ahead to 2016, we have outlined a number of areas for School Councils and Management to consider.
Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC)
The advancement of education is considered to be a charitable activity and as such non-government schools are required to be registered with the ACNC. The ACNC have extended their transitional reporting arrangements for non-government schools. The ACNC Commissioner has agreed to accept the financial questionnaires submitted to the Department of Education and Training, for the 2015 reporting period, as was the case for the 2014 reporting period. Non-Government Schools therefore, do not have to provide financial information to the ACNC directly, however you will still have to complete the 2015 Annual Information Statement and fill in the financial information as "0".
Don’t forget to notify the ACNC of your charity sub-type, any changes relating to your charity, including "responsible persons" and governing documents.
When was the last time you had an external review of your taxation compliance? Are you accessing all eligible GST concessions? Is superannuation being paid correctly on allowances? Is your rebateable remuneration calculated correctly for WorkCover? Are you confident you’re treating fringe benefits for teachers correctly? These are some of the areas we would be happy to help you review, giving you and your School Council the confidence that you are fully compliant.
Many schools are increasingly embracing digital technologies in the classroom. These programs often have significant start up costs and schools are exploring a variety of ways to fund these programs. Leasing arrangements are a common way to purchase this type of equipment and also fund these programs.
Australian Accounting Standard: 117 Leases outlines accounting treatment of finance and operating leases. We have recently released a FocusOn Leases for Schools that provides guidance on how to treat these leases. Request a copy of our FocusOn Leases for Schools
Data security and integrity
This has become a major challenge for organisations across Australia. Schools rely heavily on their computer systems and data security to keep their confidential information safe from damage, loss or theft. An attack could be the result of criminal intent, by accident or through negligence. Does your school have robust controls and systems in place to mitigate these risks?
We provide Data Integrity Analysis on payments and payroll for a number of school clients. This analysis includes reviewing for duplicate payments, payments to ghost employees, unauthorised changes to master files, data profiling etc.
We have also recently identified weakness in a number of schools data security framework, including ability to override controls, lack of exception reporting, etc. If this interests you or you would like to hear more about some of the common issues, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we would be happy to discuss how we could undertake this in your school.
Policies and procedures
Policies and procedures define, regulate and inform how your management team and your governance body operate. Has your School Council reviewed and approved the following key policies and procedures:
Conflict of Interest policy
Board Induction program
Risk Management Framework
Credit Card Usage policy
Payroll policies and procedures
Receipting policies and procedures
Payments policies and procedures
Debtors and Fee Management policy.
It is important that policies and procedures are linked to strategy, are easy to understand, communicated to all relevant people and regularly reviewed.
Board governance training
Governing schools can be a complex area and it is important for School Councils to be aware of the key educational issues and for them to understand the requirements for good governance. Does your board undertake professional development to ensure they have the competence and confidence to make informed decisions?
Stay tuned for the release of our 2016 timetable for our Board Governance Training, relevant for School Council members. We undertook a series of sessions in 2015 on The Role of the Chairperson, Introduction to Financial Governance for Directors, Implementing an Effective Board Induction and Evaluation Process and tailored Governance sessions. We will provide further sessions in 2016.