August 29, 2016
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The Florida Statutes

The 2001 Florida Statutes

Title XVI
Education
Chapter 230
District School System
View Entire Chapter
Section 230.23025, Florida Statutes 2001

230.23025  Best financial management practices; standards; reviews; designation of districts.--

(1)  The purpose of best financial management practices reviews is to improve Florida school district management and use of resources and to identify cost savings. The Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) and the Office of the Auditor General are directed to develop a system for reviewing the financial management practices of school districts. In this system, the Auditor General shall assist OPPAGA in examining district operations to determine whether they meet "best financial management practices."

(2)  The best financial management practices adopted by the Commissioner of Education may be updated periodically after consultation with the Legislature, the Governor, the SMART Schools Clearinghouse, the Department of Education, school districts, and the Auditor General, OPPAGA shall submit to the Commissioner of Education for review and adoption proposed revisions to the best financial management practices adopted by the commissioner. The best financial management practices, at a minimum, must instill public confidence by addressing the school district's use of resources; identifying ways that the district could save funds; and improving districts' performance accountability systems, including public accountability. To achieve these objectives, best practices shall be developed for, but need not be limited to, the following areas:

(a)  Management structures.

(b)  Performance accountability.

(c)  Efficient delivery of educational services, including instructional materials.

(d)  Administrative and instructional technology.

(e)  Personnel systems and benefits management.

(f)  Facilities construction.

(g)  Facilities maintenance.

(h)  Student transportation.

(i)  Food service operations.

(j)  Cost control systems, including asset management, risk management, financial management, purchasing, internal auditing, and financial auditing.

In areas for which the commissioner has not adopted best practices, OPPAGA may develop additional best financial management practices, with input from a broad range of stakeholders. OPPAGA shall present any additional best practices to the commissioner for review and adoption. Revised best financial management practices adopted by the commissioner must be used in the next year's scheduled school district reviews conducted according to this section.

(3)  OPPAGA shall contract with a private firm selected through a formal request for proposal process to perform the review, to the extent that funds are provided for this purpose in the General Appropriations Act each year. When sufficient funds are not provided to contract for all the scheduled best financial management practices reviews, OPPAGA shall conduct the remaining reviews scheduled for that year, except as otherwise provided in this act. At least one member of the private firm review team shall have expertise in school district finance. The scope of the review shall focus on the best practices adopted by the Commissioner of Education, pursuant to subsection (2). OPPAGA may include additional items in the scope of the review after seeking input from the school district and the Department of Education.

(4)  OPPAGA shall consult with the Commissioner of Education throughout the best practices review process to ensure that the technical expertise of the Department of Education benefits the review process and supports the school districts before, during, and after the review.

(5)  It is the intent of the Legislature that each school district shall be subject to a best financial management practices review. The Legislature also intends that all school districts shall be reviewed on a continuing 5-year cycle, as follows, unless specified otherwise in the General Appropriations Act, or as provided in this act:

(a)  Year 1: Hillsborough, Sarasota, Collier, Okaloosa, Alachua, St. Lucie, Santa Rosa, Hernando, Indian River, Monroe, Osceola, and Bradford.

(b)  Year 2: Miami-Dade, Duval, Volusia, Bay, Columbia, Suwannee, Wakulla, Baker, Union, Hamilton, Jefferson, Gadsden, and Franklin.

(c)  Year 3: Palm Beach, Orange, Seminole, Lee, Escambia, Leon, Levy, Taylor, Madison, Gilchrist, Gulf, Dixie, Liberty, and Lafayette.

(d)  Year 4: Pinellas, Pasco, Marion, Manatee, Clay, Charlotte, Citrus, Highlands, Nassau, Hendry, Okeechobee, Hardee, DeSoto, and Glades.

(e)  Year 5: Broward, Polk, Brevard, Lake, St. Johns, Martin, Putnam, Jackson, Flagler, Walton, Sumter, Holmes, Washington, and Calhoun.

(6)(a)  The Joint Legislative Auditing Committee may adjust the schedule of districts to be reviewed when unforeseen circumstances prevent initiation of reviews scheduled in a given year.

(b)  Once the 5-year cycle has been completed, reviews shall continue, beginning again with those districts included in year one of the cycle unless a district has requested and received a waiver as provided in subsection (17).

(7)  At the direction of the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee or the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and subject to funding by the Legislature, OPPAGA may conduct, or contract with a private firm to conduct, up to two additional best financial management practices reviews in districts not scheduled for review during that year if such review is necessary to address adverse financial conditions.

(8)  Reviews shall be conducted by OPPAGA and the consultant to the extent specifically funded by the Legislature in the General Appropriations Act for this purpose. Such funds may be used for the cost of reviews by OPPAGA and private consultants contracted by the director of OPPAGA. Costs may include professional services, travel expenses of OPPAGA and staff of the Auditor General, and any other necessary expenses incurred as part of a best financial management practices review.

(9)  Districts scheduled for review must complete a self-assessment instrument provided by OPPAGA which indicates the school district's evaluation of its performance on each best practice. The district must begin the self-assessment not later than 60 days prior to the commencement of the review. The completed self-assessment instrument and supporting documentation must be submitted to OPPAGA not later than the date of commencement of the review as notified by OPPAGA. The best practice review team will use this self-assessment information during their review of the district.

(10)  During the review, OPPAGA and the consultant conducting the review, if any, shall hold at least one advertised public forum as part of the review in order to explain the best financial management practices review process and obtain input from students, parents, the business community, and other district residents regarding their concerns about the operations and management of the school district.

(11)  District reviews conducted under this section must be completed within 6 months after commencement. OPPAGA shall issue a final report to the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the district regarding the district's use of best financial management practices and cost savings recommendations within 60 days after completing the reviews. Copies of the final report shall be provided to the Governor, the Commissioner of Education, and to the chairs of school advisory councils and district advisory councils established pursuant to s. 229.58(1)(a) and (b). The school district shall notify all members of the school advisory councils and district advisory council by mail that the final report has been delivered to the school district and to the council chairs. The notification shall also inform members of the OPPAGA website address at which an electronic copy of the report is available.

(12)  After receipt of the final report and before the school board votes whether to adopt the action plan, or if no action plan was required because the district was found to be using the best practices, the school district shall hold an advertised public forum to accept public input and review the findings and recommendations of the report. The district shall advertise and promote this forum in a manner appropriate to inform school and district advisory councils, parents, school district employees, the business community, and other district residents of the opportunity to attend this meeting. OPPAGA and the consultant, if any, shall also be represented at this forum.

(13)(a)  If the district is found not to conform to best financial management practices, the report must contain an action plan detailing how the district could meet the best practices within 2 years. The school board must decide, by a majority plus one vote within 90 days after receipt of the final report, whether or not to implement the action plan and pursue a "Seal of Best Financial Management" awarded by the State Board of Education to qualified school districts. If a district fails to vote on the action plan within 90 days, school board members may be required to appear and present testimony before a legislative committee, pursuant to s. 11.143.

(b)  The school board may vote to reverse a decision not to implement an action plan, provided that the action plan is implemented and there is still sufficient time, as determined by the district school board, to meet the best practices within 2 years after issuance of the final report.

(c)  Within 90 days after the receipt of the final report, the school board must notify OPPAGA and the Commissioner of Education in writing of the date and outcome of the school board vote on whether to adopt the action plan. If the school board fails to vote on whether to adopt the action plan, the superintendent must notify OPPAGA and the Commissioner of Education. The Department of Education may contact the school district, assess the situation, urge the school board to vote, and offer technical assistance, if needed.

1(14)  If a school board votes to implement the action plan:

(a)  No later than 1 year after receipt of the final report, the school district must submit an initial status report to the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Governor, OPPAGA, the Auditor General, the State Board of Education, and the Commissioner of Education on progress made towards implementing the action plan and whether changes have occurred in other areas of operation that would affect compliance with the best practices.

(b)  A second status report must be submitted by the school district to the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Governor, OPPAGA, the Auditor General, the Commissioner of Education, and the State Board of Education no later than 1 year after submission of the initial report.

Status reports are not required once OPPAGA concludes that the district is using best practices.

(15)  After receipt of each of a district's two status reports required by subsection (14), OPPAGA shall assess the district's implementation of the action plan and progress toward implementing the best financial management practices in areas covered by the plan. Following each assessment, OPPAGA shall issue a report to the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the district indicating whether the district has successfully implemented the best financial management practices. Copies of the report must be provided to the Governor, the Auditor General, the Commissioner of Education, and the State Board of Education. If a district has failed to implement an action plan adopted pursuant to subsection (13), school board members and the school superintendent may be required to appear before a legislative committee, pursuant to s. 11.143, to present testimony regarding the district's failure to implement such action plan.

1(16)  School districts that successfully implement the best financial management practices within 2 years, or are determined in the review to be using the best practices, are eligible to receive a "Seal of Best Financial Management." Upon notification to the Commissioner of Education and the State Board of Education by OPPAGA that a district has been found to be using the best financial management practices, the State Board of Education shall award that district a "Seal of Best Financial Management" certifying that the district is adhering to the state's best financial management practices. The State Board of Education designation shall be effective for 5 years from the certification date or until the next review is completed, whichever is later. During the designation period, the district school board shall annually, not later than the anniversary date of the certification, notify OPPAGA, the Auditor General, the Commissioner of Education, and the State Board of Education of any changes in policies or operations or any other situations that would not conform to the state's best financial management practices. The State Board of Education may revoke the designation of a district at any time if it determines that a district is no longer complying with the state's best financial management practices. If no such changes have occurred and the school board determines that the school district continues to conform to the best financial management practices, the school board shall annually report that information to the State Board of Education, with copies to OPPAGA, the Auditor General, and the Commissioner of Education.

(17)(a)  The school board of a district that has been awarded a "Seal of Best Financial Management" by the State Board of Education and has annually reported to the State Board of Education that the district is still conforming to the best financial management practices may request a waiver from undergoing its next scheduled Best Financial Management Practices review.

(b)  To apply for such waiver, not later than September 1 of the fiscal year prior to the fiscal year in which the district is next scheduled for review, the school board shall certify to OPPAGA and the Department of Education the school board's determination that the school district is still conforming to the best financial management practices.

(c)  After consultation with the Department of Education and review of the school board's determination, OPPAGA may recommend to the Legislative Budget Commission that the district be granted a waiver for the next scheduled Best Financial Management Practices review. If approved for waiver, OPPAGA shall notify the school district and the Department of Education that no review of that district will be conducted during the next scheduled review cycle. In that event, the school district must continue annual reporting to the State Board of Education as required in subsection (16). Districts granted a waiver for one review cycle are not eligible for waiver of the next scheduled review cycle.

(18)  School districts that receive a best financial management practices review must maintain records that will enable independent verification of the implementation of the action plan and any related fiscal impacts.

(19)  Unrestricted cost savings resulting from implementation of the best financial management practices must be spent at the school and classroom levels for teacher salaries, teacher training, improved classroom facilities, student supplies, textbooks, classroom technology, and other direct student instruction activities. Cost savings identified for a program that has restrictive expenditure requirements shall be used for the enhancement of the specific program.

History.--s. 11, ch. 97-265; s. 22, ch. 97-384; s. 4, ch. 98-225; s. 5, ch. 2000-235; s. 20, ch. 2000-291; s. 2, ch. 2001-86; s. 72, ch. 2001-266.

1Note.--As amended by s. 2, ch. 2001-86. Section 2, ch. 2001-86, revised s. 230.23025 extensively, including redesignating former subsection (4) as subsections (14) and (16). Section 72, ch. 2001-266, amended s. 230.23025(4) to revise a cross-reference in material that was stricken by the ch. 2001-86 version. As amended by s. 72, ch. 2001-266, subsection (4) reads:

(4)  District school boards that agree by a majority plus one vote to institute the action plan shall submit an annual report to the Legislature, the Governor, the SMART Schools Clearinghouse, OPPAGA, the Auditor General, and the Commissioner of Education on progress made towards implementing the plan and whether changes have occurred in other areas of operation which would affect compliance with the best practices. Such districts shall be reviewed annually by OPPAGA, in addition to the annual financial audit required under s. 218.39, to determine whether they have attained compliance with the best financial management practices in the areas covered by the plan. Districts that are found to comply with the best financial management practices shall receive a "Seal of Best Financial Management" by the State Board of Education certifying that the district is adhering to the state's best financial management practices. This designation shall be effective for a 5-year period, after which the district school board may reapply for the designation to be granted after another financial management practice review. During the designation period, the district school board shall annually notify the SMART Schools Clearinghouse, OPPAGA, the Auditor General, and the State Board of Education of any changes in policies or operations or any other situations that would not conform to the state's best financial management practices. The State Board of Education may revoke the designation of a district at any time if it determines that a district is no longer complying with the state's best financial management practices.

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