For only the second time since 2002, it’s time for public schools to publish their financial statements in newspapers. This came about in 2016 following Governor Bevin’s veto of part of the state budget bill. That veto took out language that had allowed school districts to post the financial statements on a district’s website instead of in the newspaper.
Doing it for the first time last year showed that some districts weren’t familiar with KRS 424.220 on Publication of Financial Statements and there’s a good chance a lot of newspapers were not, either.
Below is the text of that portion relating to school districts and I want to emphasize some points:
• it must show payments to vendors in the aggregate but only if the vendor received $1,000 or more during the fiscal year. We found last year that some districts, thus some newspapers, published amounts well below $1,000. The lowest amount we found on a statement was $13.49. Again, payments to vendors during the fiscal year that amount to less than $1,000 means the vendor’s name and the amount is not to be published.
• some districts supplied the financial statement as a pdf. That makes it difficult for newspapers to decrease extraneous white space and to also ensure the statement is not published larger than 7 point type. Contact your school district office now and ask them to get you the financial statement in a format other than a pdf so that you can adjust the point size and delete unnecessary white space.
Salaries of teachers are not to be published as a part of the financial statement. The school district is required to give you a copy of teacher salaries by name that you can use as a news story if you desire. But publication of the salaries is NOT part of the financial statement and school districts are not required to pay for that if you do publish the salaries.
KRS 424.220 reads:
(2) The statement shall show:
(a) The total amount of funds collected and received during the fiscal year from each individual source; and
(b) The total amount of funds disbursed during the fiscal year to each individual payee. The list shall include only aggregate amounts to vendors exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000).
(4) The amount of salaries paid to all teachers shall be shown as a lump-sum instructional expenditure for the school district and not by amount paid to individual teachers. The amount of salaries paid to all other employees of the board shall be shown as lump-sum expenditures by category, including but not limited to administrative, maintenance, transportation, and food service. The local board of education … shall have accessible a factual list of individual salaries for public scrutiny and the local board … shall furnish by mail a factual list of individual salaries of its employees to a newspaper qualified under KRS 424.120 to publish advertisements for the district, which newspaper may then publish as a news item the individual salaries of school … employees.
(5) The officer shall procure and include in or attach to the financial statement, as a part thereof, a certificate from the cashier or other proper officer of the banks in which the funds are or have been deposited during the past year, showing the balance, if any, of funds to the credit of the officer making the statement.
Take a copy of 424.220 to the district office NOW. Show them that a vendor’s name is only required to be published, with a dollar amount, if the vendor received more than $1,000 during the fiscal year.