By Diane R. Chodan
WESTFIELD - Alan Holbrook, Westfield Academy and Central School business manager/district clerk, is trying to make understanding financial matters easier for school board members.
Holbrook created documents he called a "cheat sheet" or an overview of financial information. He reviewed it with board members recently, explaining how the code numbers are used to identify different accounts. He also explained while at the last meeting the board heard from an external auditor, there are other audits the district does.
One is an internal audit, which includes risk assessment and an audit of a system that the audit committee chooses. In Westfield, there is also a claims auditor who looks at the payments the district makes.
"If you ever have any questions, don't hesitate to ask," Holbrook said. "If you want to come in so I can go over this with you, I can do that. Anyone who wants information should call. This is everyone's budget and it should be open, transparent, and understandable."
Holbrook had also prepared information for the board concerning the reserve funds the district used or continues to use. Information includes how funds were established, maintained and, if applicable, closed out. He said Westfield is starting to "burn" its reserves and that will lead to fiscal concerns in the future. He told the board the state has changed its outlook on reserves and feels districts should use them. He also explained some reserves can only be used for specific items.
Michelle Helms, a staff development specialist at Erie-2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES, also had a presentation for the board. She discussed local testing and how they fit into the Annual Professional Performance Review. The local portion of the assessment accounts for 20 percent of the entire assessment.
"Assessments have to be valid, reliable, and rigorous," she said.
She explained that depending on the type of teacher, the methods of review will be different.
Another item that was introduced was student learning objective. These can be developed for the local assessments by individual teachers or by groups or teams. Another method of local assessment is a third party assessment.
"In the end when we work through this (APPR) it will be a powerful tool for evaluation," said Dave Davison, district superintendent.