Round Lake 116 receives top financial award
Just seven years after being on a state financial watchlist, Round Lake Area Unit School District 116 received the Meritorious Budget Award from the Association of School Business Officials International.
The district's chief financial officer, Bill Johnston, said the district was required to submit its proposed budget as well as a detailed breakdown of each fund, an organizational summary and more.
"It's lot more complicated than just presenting a budget for approval. It was very involved," said Johnston, who estimated he spent 100 to 120 hours preparing the district's materials.
The award is judged by a team of professional accountants and government auditors, and the bar for success is high: Only 18 districts in Illinois were granted the top prize last year.
Along with financial documents, Johnston had to include a history of the district, which for Round Lake 116 is different from most. Severe financial mismanagement in the 1990s led to the state running the district from 2001 through 2011. Superintendent Constance Collins was hired in 2010 and has been a major part of the district's improvement.
"We've taken seriously how far we've come and we've committed to not getting in to the same situation we were in before," Collins said. "Our community can be proud that we have been good stewards of the finances within the district."
The district has been on the path to receiving the Association of School Business Officials International's top award for a while. In 2014 it was first granted the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting, a lesser Association of School Business Officials International award given to 61 Illinois school districts that year.
After earning Certificate of Excellence awards in 2015 and 2016, the district last year earned the second-highest award from the association called the Pathway to the Meritorious Budget Award.
Johnston said he thinks the recent awards reflect well on the district.
"I think it should show that we're in the year 2018 and the district is striving to separate itself from other districts as well as from the past," Johnston said.