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Reminder: Budget and Financial Information Website Posting
As school boards adopt their budgets for the 2021-22 school year, school officials should be mindful that State School Aid Act Section 18 creates a timeline to post the annual budget and required financial information. Within 15 days after a school board adopts its annual operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year or adopts a subsequent budget revision, the school must post or provide a link to the budget on its or its ISD’s homepage.
Within the same timeframe, schools also must post a summary of expenditures for the most recent fiscal year for which they are available. ISDs have slightly different posting obligations, as noted below. This summary of expenditures must be provided in two “visual displays.”
The first display is a chart that breaks down personnel expenses into the following categories: (A) salaries and wages; (B) employee benefit costs (including, but not limited to, medical, dental, vision, life, disability, and long-term care benefits); (C) employee retirement benefit costs; and (D) all other personnel costs. ISDs must post this first display chart. Additionally, the State School Aid Act requires each school to separately report on its website the compensation package for the superintendent and any other employee whose salary exceeds $100,000. This information must include the total salary and a description of each fringe benefit provided.
The second display is a chart that breaks down all expenses into the following categories: (A) instruction; (B) support services; (C) business and administration; and (D) operations and maintenance. Schools also must separately report the annual amount spent on association dues, the annual amount spent on lobbying or lobbying services, information related to school credit cards, and certain information related to any costs incurred for out-of-state travel. Schools subject to a deficit elimination or enhanced deficit elimination plan must post a copy of the plan.
Section 18 of the State School Aid Act also requires a school, including an ISD, to post the following documents on its website:
- The current collective bargaining agreement for each bargaining unit;
- Each health care benefits plan (including, but not limited to, medical, dental, vision, disability, long-term care, and any other type of health care benefits) offered to each bargaining unit or employee;
- The audit report for the most recent fiscal year;
- Bids required when establishing a medical benefit plan under the Public Employees Health Benefits Act;
- The school’s policy governing procurement of supplies, materials, and equipment;
- The school’s policy on reimbursable expenses; and
- Either the school’s accounts payable check register for the school’s most recent fiscal year or a statement of the total amount of reimbursed expenses incurred by board members or school employees during the most recent school fiscal year.
A failure to post budgets and other related transparency information on the school website will violate the State School Aid Act, which is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment, a fine of up to $1,500, or both. The Act also provides for state aid deductions in the event of noncompliance.
In addition to the State School Aid Act requirements, ISDs must post each year by December 31, the annual website report required by Revised School Code Section 620. The annual website report generally contains information related to the ISD’s operations and schools services, general budget information, employee compensation, certain contract reporting requirements, and information about other expenditures including travel, public relations, and lobbying expenses.