Columbia schools demonstrate excellence in financial reporting

Wednesday, October 14, 2009 | 5:45 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — For the 27th consecutive year, Columbia Public Schools was awarded The Government Finance Officers Association’s Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting.

Click here to read the 2008-2009 comprehensive annual financial report that won the district the award, as well as past reports.

According to the association's Web site, the award was created to encourage state and local governments, school districts included, to go beyond the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles when compiling their reports.

"It's not just a rubber stamp kind of program at all," said Jake Lorentz, assistant director in the technical services center of the Government Finance Officers Association. "Our program is viewed as the highest type of recognition a government can get for its financial reporting."

Applicants must submit a comprehensive annual financial report to be considered as well as meet other criteria. Columbia Public Schools is one of five state school districts to receive the award. 

"The program's not competitive," Lorentz said. "As long as you meet the criteria, you can win."

The district strives to publish financial reports that can provide an outsider with enough information to answer nearly every question he or she may have, Linda Quinley, district business services director, said Monday.

“It takes a considerable about of time,” Quinley said.

She estimated that the district spends an extra 60 hours per year preparing financial statements that go beyond the bare minimum, including comprehensive, detailed statistics reflecting several aspects of the district’s financial performance.

"If a government's receiving the award, that means they're really trying to do the best job they can presenting the information, providing the information, and trying to do it as transparently as possible," Lorentz said.



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