Tips for Applying for the Award of Excellence in Financial Management

The Award of Excellence in Financial Management recognizes Texas school districts, open-enrollment charter schools, and education service centers that have implemented professional standards, best practices, and innovations in financial reporting. The deadline to apply is November 1.

Has your organization considered applying for TASBO’s Award of Excellence in Financial Management? Well, don’t wait long, because the November 1 application is right around the corner!

If you are not familiar with this award, it may be because it is only in its second year. The award was created to recognize Texas school districts, open-enrollment charter schools, and education service centers that have implemented professional standards, best practices, and innovations in financial reporting. It is great way to increase your visibility and recognize your staff for their hard work in helping to carry out the vision of your organization.

If you are just starting the application process, don’t fret. Here are a few tips for first time applicants and others.

Create a plan. Time spent developing an organized plan is always time well spent and will lead to efficiencies in the application process. Your plan should include a checklist of all the requested items, an assignment of duties to staff, and internal due dates. The application is divided into 11 categories with multiple submission items within each category. This may sound daunting, but following your plan, properly assigning your staff, and meeting internal due dates will keep you on track.

Use existing documents. Print out the application and take an inventory of the items requested. You are likely to discover that you already have many of the required items. Some of your existing documentation may even satisfy multiple items within the application, making the whole process take less time than you may have expected. Overall, the intent is not to have organizations create these requested items from scratch. The criteria used to develop the application is based on the financial accounting and reporting guidelines and best practices identified by the: Texas Education Agency Financial Accountability System Resource Guide; Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts; Association of School Board Officials International; Government Finance Officers Association; Council of the Great City Schools; and the Legislative Budget Board. Since the sources used to develop the application are fundamental to many of your organizations, you probably have already implemented their suggested guidance and best practices and are well on your way to completing the application.

Don’t overthink it. The application is extensive, but seemingly straightforward. You can find resources and tools on the TASBO website. Are you uncertain about what to provide for a specific submission requirement? The Guidelines & Eligibility document includes an overview of the entire application and award process and includes a detailed explanation of what to provide for each submission item within the various categories of the application. The website also includes a webinar with prior award recipients providing some great insight regarding the entire process.

The time you spend completing the application will be well worth the effort and you are likely to find efficiencies in subsequent years. Users of your financial information will have an additional level of confidence in your organization if you receive the award. And your organization will have the comfort and pride of knowing it has received this prestigious “seal of approval” for financial management.

About the authors:

Greg Peterson, a partner with Weaver, has 15 years of experience in public accounting for school districts, nonprofits and governmental entities. He is actively involved in industry organizations, including serving on the TXCPA School District Conference Committee. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in finance from Tarleton State University.

Brittany Drew, Audit Manager with Weaver, has more than seven years of experience auditing various governmental entities including cities, counties, water districts, colleges and independent school districts. She has extensive knowledge of generally accepted accounting principles and GASB standards and is skilled at performing audits under GAAS and GAGAS.

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