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    Finance 

    There is an increasing need to provide school services more efficiently and effectively. We need to continue developing strategic alliances and stronger partnerships with parents, parishes, local government, business and community services and explore options to co-locate schools with community health centres, kindergartens and activity centres. 

    Theme 3: Capability to Better Serve and Lead, Catholic Education Melbourne Strategic Plan 2015–2019 

    Personal Story

     

    Patricia Cowling
    Former Principal, Genazzano FCJ College, Kew

    Overview

    The School Accounting Unit provides assistance to parish priests, school principals, business managers and school administrative personnel with regards to financial and administrative accounting procedures, and government accountability and reporting requirements. A framework of supporting schools to ensure financial viability and promoting best practice is central to the services of the Unit.

    School Accounting services are provided by:

    • regular visits to schools by regional finance officers
    • provision of targeted training programs
    • provision of nationally accredited qualifications for school administrative officers
    • access to the Finance Helpdesk.

    The School Accounting Unit strives to serve and lead our Catholic schools in relation to sound financial management by upholding strong commitment to our School Service Model. This Model has been developed over time to respond to the changing needs of schools and the ever-changing landscape of education in Australia.

    New School Service Model

    The School Accounting Unit, under the guidance of the Assistant Director of Business Advisory Services implemented a new and refocused service delivery model for schools for 2015 and beyond.

    This new service delivery model involves:

    1. Administrative Officer Cluster training/workshops. These focus on enhancing schools’ understanding of finance and administration processes and procedures as well as providing the opportunity for professional networking. Administration officers are supported by ongoing training initiatives and the Finance Helpdesk.
    2. One-on-one regional finance officer meetings with principals. These focus on enhancing schools’ understanding of financial management and promoting value-adding activities. A risk-based approach has been adopted regarding these meetings. School-specific financial dashboard reports detailing a suite of financial indicators have been developed and reviewed in 2015 for introduction to school principals in 2016.

    Integrated Catholic Online Network (ICON)

    Nine Melbourne Catholic primary schools have been selected as the first group to transition to the ICON system. A preparatory briefing for these schools was held in August 2015 and ongoing support including practical workshops is planned in preparation for the transition process commencing in June 2016.

    Accrual Accounting

    In-line with the transition towards ICON, schools will move towards accounting on an accrual basis as mandated by reporting requirements of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC). Accrual accounting workshops will continue into 2016 with a view to providing additional support to school administrative staff.

    Catholic Education Melbourne also continues to work with the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne (CAM) to confirm an agreed reporting framework for ‘right to use’ land and buildings for diocesan-owned parish primary schools.

    Early Learning Centres (ELC)

    Financial analysis was provided to a number of primary schools in July/August 2015 to assist in their Expressions of Interest (EOI) submissions to the State Government for capital grants to establish new Early Learning Centres (ELC) buildings on Parish land.  Nine schools subsequently submitted an EOI.  The State Government will assess these submissions and then request successful EOI schools to submit a grant application (following on from their EOI).

    CECV Funding Guide

    A Catholic Education Commission of Victoria Ltd (CECV) Funding Guide has been prepared which provides information on the processes and formulae used by the CECV to allocate government grants to schools. This guide covers capital grants as well as recurrent grants and also highlights the extensive accountabilities of involved parties. This document is publicly available and can be located on the CECV website.

    New Secondary Schools Funding Formula

    A comprehensive review of the secondary schools funding formula was undertaken in consultation with schools and the Grants Allocation Committee (Secondary) in 2015. This new funding model was approved by the CECV Board in June 2015. Briefing sessions across seven locations in Victoria were held to provide all secondary schools with updated information regarding the new secondary schools funding formula.

    Professional learning programs

    As part of the new School Service Model implemented in 2015, School Accounting team members facilitated the successful delivery of 75 Administration Officer Cluster meetings. While these meetings were predominantly focused on servicing the needs of school administration officers, there were also a number of principals and deputy principals in attendance throughout the year.

    The overarching objective of these meetings is to enhance schools’ understanding of finance and administration processes and procedures. Schools were combined into cluster groups on the basis of geographical location and meetings were held three times throughout the year for each of the 25 cluster groups.

    The average number of school personnel in attendance at each of these meetings during 2015 was approximately ten.

    Administration Officer Cluster Meetings Participants
    Total attendees in 2015 734
    Average attendees per Cluster Meeting (75 meetings in 2015) 9.79

    This cluster-based approach to school service was also supported by additionally available training as detailed below.

    Training Activity Participants
    Diploma of Management (contextualised for Catholic Education Primary School Officers) 13
    Primary School Administration Induction Program (held once per semester) 26
    Administrative Officers’ Forum (annual full-day forum) 56
    Online Service Records Workshops (six individual workshops held in April 2015) 97
    Fringe Benefits Tax and Salary Packaging Training 7
    Accounting System Specific Training for End-of-Year Processes 20
    Total 219