School Finance Specialist with extensive knowledge of state and federal laws and regulations governing schools and counties. Areas of expertise include, but are not limited to, budgeting, accounting, elections, pupil transportation, and tuition. Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with vast knowledge base in Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Able to interpret and apply knowledge of concepts and theories of accounting principles to specific circumstances that are often not clearly defined in statute. Proficient in performing analytical reviews and reconciliations of data, as well as, preparing future projections. Adept user of numerous accounting and computer applications. Excellent oral and written communication skills. Respected adviser in providing guidance, training, and technical support. Successful manager of subordinate staff. Experience in school setting and would like to return to the school environment.
In my current position as the School Finance Division Administrator at the Office of Public Instruction (OPI), I serve as the expert on all matters related to school finance. My position requires extensive knowledge of state and federal laws and regulations, as well as, an in depth knowledge of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). I am the chief consultant and adviser to the OPI management and provide support and guidance on a number of topics including, but limited to, federal and state compliance requirements, school and county budgeting laws, accounting and reporting in accordance with GAAP, and auditing requirements. As a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), I strive to maintain professional competence and annually take advantage of continuing educational opportunities to further my knowledge in the field of accounting and auditing. I also work very closely with the Public Information Officer in responding to media requests and questions. During the course of my employment at the OPI, I have earned the respect of my superiors and my presence is frequently requested in high-level meetings.
The School Finance division distributes over $700 million to Montana public schools, special education cooperatives, and counties. I provide leadership and direction to eight (8) Finance Specialists with expertise in specific areas, including budgeting, accounting, financial reporting statewide entitlements, enrollment, tuition, elections, pupil transportation, and impact aid. In 2012, the School Finance Division was honored with the Governor's Award for Excellence.
My experience as an auditor has proved to be invaluable in designing controls and procedures, developing policies, and monitoring programs to ensure compliance with numerous complex federal and state laws and regulations. I provide technical assistance in the ongoing development and maintenance of MAEFAIRS the statewide electronic data collection system used by by all K-12 public schools. The MAEFAIRS application received favorable results in a recent performance audit, which is a testament to the emphasis my staff and I place on the integrity of the data, compliance with state and federal laws, and proper reporting.
I provide upper management with new legislation proposals for the benefit of schools. I'm also an integral part of the legislative team during legislative sessions and I'm often called on to testify as an informational witness at committee hearings. I track all bills related to school finance, provide the technical notes, assess the impacts of the proposed legislation, and communicate information on legislative matters to the legislative team, subordinates, and school district officials. I research, develop and disseminate policies and guidelines to address new and changing issues related to school finance. Recently, I drafted eighteen (18) pages of proposed changes to the Administrative Rules of Montana (ARM).
One of the most enjoyable aspects of my position is providing technical assistance and training. I present at professional conferences, workshops, and public meetings to a wide variety of audiences including school district and county staff, school associations, legislators, and state agencies. I field numerous phone calls daily from varied individuals on a wide array of topics. I take pride in the friendly professional customer service I provide and strive to leave no question unanswered.
As the School Finance Specialist Supervisor at the OPI, I was responsible for managing fourteen (14) state funding programs and the state's main funding sources to Montana public schools. I supervised two (2) Financial Specialists with expertise in school district and county budgeting, enrollment reporting, state entitlements, and taxable values. My responsibilities included designing, developing, and implementing systems that ensure state, school district and county compliance with state laws and regulations. My auditing experience provided me the skills to implement internal control procedures, perform analytical reviews of the payment data, monitor and reconcile payment reports to the statewide accounting system (SABHRS) and legislative appropriations. I also prepared projections and forecasts for future entitlement needs to assist in determining state funding levels for Montana public K-12 schools.
In addition to managing the state entitlement payment system, I was also the lead individual for designing and monitoring the budget module of MAEFAIRS. I designed, implemented, and tested the system to ensure the integrity of data and compliance with the complex state laws and regulations governing Montana school budgeting. District budget information determines the state entitlements, therefore it was critical for me to analyze every component of the budget. Several of these components are obtained from other divisions and agencies, which required a collaborative effort to ensure the accuracy of the data reported. Shortly after being employed at the OPI, a colleague and I developed a massive testing tool designed to verify and ensure that the MAEFAIRS application was executing each of the hundreds of complex calculations properly. This tool provides efficiency in validating the data and has become the Division's most relied upon testing tool.
I provided technical support to wide variety of individuals on a wide array of topics. Due to the complexity and often time vague laws, I was required to research and interpret laws and regulations, apply accounting concepts, principles, and theory, and provide guidance based on the application of the laws and accounting standards.
As an auditor, my duties entailed planning and performing financial and federal audits of governmental entities in accordance with Governmental Accounting and Auditing Standards (GAAS). I was responsible for determining if an entity's financial statements were materially fairly stated and in compliance with GAAP, as well as, federal and state laws and regulations, I examined evidence supporting the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements, assessed the accounting principles used, evaluated significant estimates used by management, and opined on the overall general purpose financial presentation.
The firm provided a variety of consulting services in the area of assisting clients with year-end closing procedures, complicated accounting issues, budget calculations and limitations, debt capacities and limitations, funding formulas, and compliance requirements. I earned the respect of clients and was frequently requested to provide the services needed.
An in depth knowledge of governmental accounting, federal and state finance laws, and compliance laws at both the federal and state level was an absolute necessity. To fulfill my duties an auditor I was required to interpret and apply my knowledge of concepts and theories of accounting principles that often times were not clearly defined in statute or rule.
In my final year with the firm, I was assigned the task of training new staff and I was lead staff auditor in forensic audit, which proved to be the most interesting experience in my career as an auditor.
I enjoyed a little over nine (9) years of employment at the Philipsburg K-12 School District as the Business Manager/Clerk. My responsibilities required an in-depth knowledge of state and federal laws, as well as, a broad knowledge of GAAP and school funding formulas. As the Business Manager I was responsible for the preparation, maintenance and monitoring of the District's overall budget (all funds). All purchases and payments required my approval. I was responsible for processing payroll, submitting reports to all state and federal regulatory agencies, and ensuring that the District complied with all state, and federal labor standards, as well as, the local collective bargaining agreement. My responsibilities also included supervision of 1 1/2 school secretaries with regard to their schedules, duties, and responsibilities.
While employed at the Philipsburg K-12 School District, I played a vital role in securing and administrating a Federal Qualified Zone Academy Bond (QZAB) grant. We were one of the first school districts in the state to secure such a grant and were essentially pioneers on the issue. I worked closely with bond counsel and the Montana Board of Investments (BOI) to determine and ensure legal and proper issuance of the bonds. Proceeds were used to upgrade and update the historical elementary building, the oldest operational schoolhouse in the state of Montana.
As the Clerk of the Board, my duties included providing technical information with regard to school finance formulas and school laws to school district officials, parents, and taxpayers. I was also responsible for conducting all school elections (poll elections) in accordance with state statute. I attended all meetings of the Board and maintained minutes of the meeting according to Montana Code Annotated (MCA).
For approximately six years (6) I was employed as the District Clerk of Hall Elementary School District. This small district did not have a superintendent or other administration, therefore, most of the administrative duties fell to the responsibility of the District Clerk. In addition to the normal duties, I was also an integral part of the reporting processes. As the District Clerk, I was responsible for preparing, maintaining and monitoring the annual overall budget. All purchases and payments required my approval. My duties included ensuring that the District complied with all local, state, and federal labor standards and agreements. I was also responsible for processing payroll and submitting reports to all state and federal regulatory agencies.
As the Clerk of the Board of Trustees, I was responsible for conducting all school elections, in accordance with MCA. I was required to attend all meetings of the Board, and maintain the minutes of according to State statute. My responsibilities required an extensive knowledge of state and federal laws, as well as, an in-depth knowledge of school finance and accounting.
From May 1996 to May 1999, I held the position of Trustee. During my term, both the Board and teachers relied heavily on my expertise and extensive knowledge of school law. In addition, as a Trustee, I was responsible for employee supervision and evaluations.
Dean's list for four years.
Graduated with honors.
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