School board members in Carpentersville-based Community Unit District 300 stopped to recognize the work of the district's finance department during a short board meeting Monday evening.
A team led by Chief Financial Officer Susan Harkin earned Dist. 300 a handful of awards for financial reporting and financial planning. The district received the meritorious budget award from the Association of School Business Officials International for its 2012-13 budget, along with a certificate of excellence in financial reporting from the same organization for its comprehensive annual financial report from the prior year. It was the fifth year the district received both distinctions. It also got a certificate of achievement for excellence in financial reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada, again for the fifth year in a row. The finance department's crowning accolade, though, is its fourth year getting a certificate of financial recognition from the state board of education. Fewer than half of all Illinois school districts are in the same category, which requires them to do more than maintain transparency in reporting their finances.
"What comes from the state board of education is truly indicators of what is the financial health of the district," Harkin said.
The other three awards are based on how transparent the district is with its finances, whether they're in top shape or not.
Harkin said winning the awards proved a high commitment to financial reporting and transparency but had a more practical application as well.
The two financial reporting awards are based on the district's completion of a comprehensive annual financial report, or CAFR, which includes much more information than a standard, single-year budget. The CAFR is not required of school districts, and only 17 others were recognized in Illinois for excellence in preparing them last year.
Harkin said one of the most important benefits of compiling the CAFR is to have it for the bond rating agencies. The document details the district's commitment to financial responsibility and helps earn it the highest credit rating, saving taxpayers money when the district issues bonds.
"I commend the board and this community for making sure we're good stewards of taxpayer dollars and making sure the district is financially sound," Harkin said.