Chicken wire, gumdrops, tiaras, helium tanks, dowels, megaphones, floating candles, marshmallows, fishing line, and hundreds of candy bars. As Associated Student Body (ASB) Advisor at San Pasqual Academy (SPA), I have submitted reimbursement receipts for thousands of dollars in concession stand inventory and event supplies this year. Student body organizations, such as my school’s ASB, are so complex that even an expert independent audit would not be able to detect fraud. The audit findings may give a positive qualified opinion or notice that the organization does not follow generally accepted accounting practices, but it would be nearly impossible for anyone besides a school’s ASB advisor and ASB officers to track and justify every single expenditure--especially of consumable goods. ASB finance management at my school needs improvement in order to pass an audit or even to simply prepare to respond to potential accusations of fraud.
According to Townley & Schmieder-Ramirez (2015), “A school district's governing board, the superintendent, business manager, and principal have major roles to perform in effective management of a student body organization.” However, in my role as a new ASB advisor, I only communicated with my principal and our student support specialist about ASB finances. At the beginning of the year, my principal gave me a constitution that provided a generic overview of how to handle finances but contained gaps, such as a description of the treasurer's responsibilities. I was given a form to use for cash boxes and reimbursements from our ASB bank account (controlled by our student support specialist and principal) and reminded to have students take minutes of meetings. I was not told how much money was in my account but was told the district had money set aside for supplies. Although I was continually frustrated by a the reimbursement system that required me to spend thousands of dollars out of my own pocket (last year’s advisor had a credit card), lack of my ability access a running balance of the account, and never learning how to access the money I was told the district provided, this system worked for the year.
After reading “Student Body Organizations” in School Finance: A California Perspective by Townley & Schmieder-Ramirez I have created a suggested plan of steps that can be taken within the next few months to strengthen the finance system of SPA’s ASB. The ASB advisor and principal can:
Townley, A. J. & Schmieder-Ramirez, J. H.,. (2005). School finance: a California perspective. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Pub. Co.