School Improvement Fund Questions

 
"RED BOOK" - Financial & Program Cost Accounting and Reporting for Florida Schools - Chapter 4 refers to expenditures.  Code 600 itemizes capital improvements, pg 6-8.
 
For 2013, awards were distributed in March 2014.  http://www.fldoe.org/faq/default.asp?ALL=Y&Dept=177
  1. FL DOE SAC Frequently Asked Questions (3 pages, all topics)

  2. Bonus money for SAC officers - is this allowed?

  3. Who determines how are SI funds are to be used?

  4. Where do I find the State Statutes concerning SAC & SI Funds?

  5. May SAC funds be used to put in a new portable to relieve classroom size?

  6. Our SAC voted to expend funds for an item, now what? 

  7. Can a principal override the recommendations of the SAC for use of SI funds? 

  8. Does SAC need to spend all the SI funds on the SIP & how much is SAC allocated?

  9. Can school improvement funds be "carried over"?

  10. Still confused... what about spending funds on paper, student incentives...

  11. Do all School Improvement funds be spent on the SIP - more discussion?

  12. Is there more legal opinions or guidelines on the use of school improvement funds?

  13. OPPAGA document regarding school enhancement fund and district audits regarding same funds  (#3)

  14. How does Florida spend its lottery dollars?

1.  Bonus money for SAC officers - is this allowed?
Answer:  No.  (Pretty simple answer!)  However, there are several counties, Hillsborough & Broward County, that both have allowed SI funds to be used for stipends for the SAC officers.  In Hillsborough it is not even called stipends but some SAC chairs receive funds for their expenses. 
SEE:  Memo Opinion from DOE General Counsel Ronald G. Stowers Regarding the use of bonus money to SAC which is clear that funds may NOT be spent on bonuses. 

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2.  Who determines how are SI funds (School Improvement Funds) are to be used? 
Title IV Chapter 24 State Lotteries 24.121 
Allocation of revenues and expenditure of funds for public education.
5.(c) These moneys may be expended only on programs or projects selected by the school advisory council or by a parent advisory committee created pursuant to this paragraph. and.... Each year the General Appropriations Act, school enhancement funds is determined. 

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3.  Where do I find the State Statutes concerning SAC & School Improvement Funds?
This website will assist you with the statutes with links directly to the state site.  Click on "State Statutes" link on the top menu and then "$ Funding Statutes".  There are several statutes pertaining to funds.  Also see:  Florida State Legislation Online

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4.  May SI funds be used to put in a new portable to relieve classroom size? 
No.   
24.121 (5c) "These moneys may not be used for capital improvements, nor may they be used for any project or program that has a duration of more than 1 year; however, a school advisory council or parent advisory committee may independently determine that a program or project formerly funded under this paragraph should receive funds in a subsequent year."
Capital Improvements:  FL DOE "RED BOOK" 2013 - http://www.fldoe.org/fefp/redtoc.asp

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5.  Our SAC voted to expend funds for an item, now what? 
Document the request and vote in the SAC minutes. Individual schools may have different processes - i.e. submitting approved minutes to bookkeeper, a memo submittal, or verbal from the principal. Many schools have the SAC chair sign off on expenditures.  Every SAC must have minutes to the meetings, have meetings open to the public and publicized.  SACs are governed by the Sunshine Law which requires minutes, open meetings and publicizing the meetings.  More information click here

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6.  Can a principal override the recommendations of the SAC for use of School Improvement funds?
No.   
24.121 "Funding for use by the School Advisory Councils should be allocated directly to the School Advisory Councils, should be clearly earmarked for their use and is not subject to override by the Principal or interim approvals by school district staff. The funds must be accounted for and subject to being audited on a yearly basis."  

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7.  Does SAC need to spend all the SI funds on the SIP & how much is SAC allocated? 
No - the law is clear that a portion of the funds be used.  Most schools use all or most since the funds were created to help schools implement the Plans which were required by law..  Each year the Budget for Lottery Funds, (General Appropriations Act) - Education Enhancement "Lottery" Trust Fund - is created.  Initially in the early years of SAC, the amount was $4 per student which was then gradually increased to the current $10  $5 per student [2014].  2009, it was reduced to $0.  2008 = $5. 
8.   Can School Improvement Funds be carried over?  Must we spend all the funds given in a year that year?
Yes, funds may be carried over from year to year.  (There are NO laws contrary to this) But, there are two issues to consider.  First, if we don't use those funds, it sends a message to legislators that schools don't need those funds since we are not spending it.  Second, those funds are supposed to enhance education that year, so are the students getting full use of the funds to help them increase their level of skills academically?  Sometimes funds do sit in the accounts and it APPEARS to be not spent, but in reality, the funds have been expended for a program or project that has yet to occur or be paid for.
9.   I am still confused on spending SAC money.. we were told that the money had to be spent on the goals that were for that year? For example if a goal is safety then the SAC can purchase items or hire people that would help the school be safer. Or if the goal is higher FCAT scores SAC could pay for rewards for those students who improved their FCAT scores? This is so difficult to figure out. everyone tells you something different. and the state guidelines are open for interpretation. It's hard to tell if you are voting the proper way. For instance can SAC use some of it's money to help a student cover the cost of attending a national Science/History Fair? or not? Can they help the drama club, the cheerleaders, football team or debate team? Or should we just buy books and paper?
1.   Each district must define what expenditures are allowed under 'enhancement dollars' which is where SAC dollars come from.

2.   State law says a PORTION of the funds must be spent on the school improvement plan - or the goals that you refer to.

3.   SAC determines how the funds are spent in support of student achievement

4.   Some schools do use the funds as a reward - for example - a pizza party for the class that scored the highest in FCAT reading scores...or for  students most improved...or for good behavior. Every school has its problems and therefore, will need to spend its funds differently. An alternative school for 'bad behavior' type children MAY need to use the funds extensively to change the behavior (behavior modification type programs).

5.   Safety MUST be part of every school's SIP so SAC must address safety. How you do that is up to your SAC. A middle school used a small portion ($200) for 'rewards' of lollypops and pencils for high school students wearing their ID's - the ID's are required and students were constantly forgetting them so using positive behavior modification DID work. Another school used the funds ($6000+) for security camera's - which took years to get all the cameras but was definitely worth it with double digit drops in student disruptions and theft.

6.   Sending students to history or science fair....sure, if that is what SAC feels would improve student achievement. Drama? Cheerleaders? That is where we get to the vote of the SAC committee. Personally, my recommendation would be to ask some questions...
"How will this improve student achievement"
"How does this fit in with the current or future SIP"
"How many students are benefiting from the expenditure"
"How does the expenditure make our students and staff safer"
"Does this fit with the state education goals"

7.   Our SAC has had to purchase paper, books, copy costs...sometimes this is needed to best serve the needs of our students.          ~ Theresa, FL-SAC vice president
10.  How Does Florida Spend the Lottery Dollars?
http://www.flalottery.com/inet/educationDollarToEducation.do
 
     
 

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