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New Budget Transparency Guidance
On July 24, 2014, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) issued revised guidance on budget transparency to include changes required by the fiscal year 2014-15 Education Omnibus Appropriation Bill (PA 196 of 2014). The guidance document is available at www.thrunlaw.com/links.
The 2014-2015 Education Omnibus Appropriation Bill made a number of amendments to various provisions of the State School Aid Act, including to subsection 18(2) regarding transparency requirements, which apply to school districts, intermediate school districts, and public school academies. The amendments, which will become effective on October 1, 2014, include a reduction from 30 days to 15 days after the board adopts its annual budget or any subsequent budget revisions within which a district, intermediate school district, or academy must post data links to its website home page. Three new data elements now must also be included on a district’s or academy’s transparency page (this does not apply to intermediate school districts):
1. any deficit elimination plan or enhanced deficit elimination plan;
2. information about district or academy credit cards, including:
a. the identification of all district credit cards,
b. the identity of all authorized card users,
c. each card’s credit limit, and
d. each authorized user’s spending limit on the card; and
3. the costs incurred for each instance of out-of-state travel by an administrator that is fully or partially paid for by the district or academy, including identification of each individual on the trip, the destination, and the purpose for the trip.
These new transparency elements are in addition to the following information that districts, intermediate school districts, and academies have been required to include on their budget transparency page since 2006:
1. annual operating budget and any subsequent budget revisions;
2. two pie charts using data that has been collected and submitted to the MDE showing a summary of the following expenditures for the most recent fiscal year for which they are available:
a. personnel expenditures, broken into the following subcategories:
i. salaries and wages;
ii. employee benefit costs, including but not limited to, medical, dental, vision, life, disability, and long-term care benefits;
iii. retirement benefit costs; and
iv. all other personnel costs.
b. all district expenditures, broken into the following subcategories:
ii. support services;
iii. business and administration; and
iv. operations and maintenance.
3. links to all of the following:
a. the current collective bargaining agreement for each bargaining unit;
b. each health care benefits plan, including but not limited to, medical, dental, vision, disability, long-term care, or any other type of benefits that would constitute health care services, offered to any bargaining unit or employee;
c. the audit report for the most recent fiscal year for which it is available; and
d. the bids required under Section 5 of the Public Employee Health Benefits Act.
4. the total salary and a description and cost of each fringe benefit included in the compensation package for the superintendent and for each employee whose salary exceeds $100,000;
5. the annual amount spent on dues paid to associations; and
6. the annual amount spent on lobbying or lobbying services.
Beginning in fiscal year 2015-2016, districts and academies also must submit their annual financial audit reports and pupil membership audit reports to the Center for Educational Reference and Information (CERI) by October 15th. The submission deadline for these reports remains November 15th for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 fiscal years.