TITLE 16
Education

CHAPTER 16-2
School Committees and Superintendents [See Title 16 Chapter 97 – The Rhode Island Board of Education Act]

SECTION 16-2-9.4


§ 16-2-9.4 School district accounting compliance.

(a) The office of auditor general and the department of elementary and secondary education shall promulgate a uniform system of accounting, including a chart of accounts based on the recommendations of the advisory council on school finances, and require all accounts of the school districts, regional school districts, state schools, and charter schools to be kept in accordance therewith; provided, that in any case in which the uniform system of accounting is not practicable, the office of auditor general, in conjunction with the department of elementary and secondary education, shall determine the manner in which the accounts shall be kept. The uniform chart of accounts (UCOA) must allow for both school-to-school and school district-to-school district comparisons. The structure of the UCOA shall ensure that data is captured and presented by, at a minimum, position, program, and school location in order to facilitate such comparisons. The uniform system of accounting shall also include a standardized budget process to ensure districts can annually assess investment priorities and incorporate long-range planning.

(b) For the purpose of securing a uniform system of accounting and a chart of accounts the advisory council on school finances, as defined in § 16-2-9.3, may make such surveys of the operation of any school district, regional school district, state school, or charter school as they shall deem necessary.

(c) Upon completion of the implementation of the uniform chart of accounts, all the school districts, regional school districts, state schools, and/or charter schools, shall implement a department of elementary and secondary education-approved budget model that shall include a distinct line item for payments to charter schools and use best practices established by the department of elementary and secondary education for long-range planning, budget development, and budget administration and reporting.

(d) Commencing July 1, 2017, and on a continuing basis thereafter, each local education agency shall submit a "budget-only" file that conforms with UCOA requirements to the department of elementary and secondary education within 30 days of the city/town adoption of the budget.

(e) Using data from the uniform chart of accounts, on an annual basis, the department of elementary and secondary education shall publish on its website, and provide the general assembly with, a performance dashboard indicating the per-pupil expenditures of each public school and school district broken down by revenue sources and expenditure categories. Further, the department shall provide, within the same dashboard, student-performance indicators for each public school and school district.

(f) Commencing July 1, 2017, and on a continuing basis thereafter, each local education agency shall post the following information on its website, in a downloadable format, for free public access:

(1) The local education agency's annual budget, commencing with the budget for the 2017-18 budget year, that includes, at a minimum, information at the program and school levels;

(2) The local education agency shall post a link to the statewide website operated by the department of elementary and secondary education that will publish the school- and district-level "budget only" and UCOA expenditure data.

(3) Each local education agency shall update the information specified in subdivision (f)(1) within sixty (60) days after adoption and/or making any changes to the local education agency's budget, including any changes made to the budgets of an individual program or school.

(g) If any school district, regional school district, state school, or charter school fails to install and maintain the uniform system of accounting, including a chart of accounts and approved budget model, or fails to keep its accounts and interdepartmental records, or refuses or neglects to make the reports and to furnish the information in accordance with the method prescribed by the office of auditor general and the department of education, or hinders or prevents the examination of accounts and financial records, the auditor general and the commissioner of education, and/or their respective designee(s), shall make a report to the superintendent of schools of the local education agency, the school committee chairperson, the mayor or town manager, and the president of the town council, and/or for a charter school, to the board of trustees or directors, as applicable, in writing, specifying the nature and extent of the failure, refusal, neglect, hindrance, or prevention, and the commissioner is hereby authorized and directed to review the matter so reported. If the commissioner shall find that failure, refusal, neglect, hindrance, or prevention exists and that the school district, regional school district, state school, or charter school should properly comply in the matter so reported, the commissioner shall direct the school district, regional school district, state school, or charter school, in writing, to so comply. If the failure, refusal, neglect, hindrance, or prevention shall continue for a period of ten (10) days following the written direction, the commissioner may request the board of education for approval to withhold distribution of state aid to said school district, regional school district, state school, or charter school. The board shall hold a hearing and provide the subject school and/or district notice and an opportunity to be heard at said hearing. After hearing thereon, the board may authorize the commissioner to withhold the distribution of state aid to said school district, regional school district, state school, or charter school, if the board determines such sanction is appropriate.

(h) The department of elementary and secondary education, in consultation with the division of municipal finance, shall conduct periodic reviews and analysis of school revenues and expenses. The department shall also review and monitor compliance with the approved budget model and best practices. The department shall identify those local education agencies considered to be at risk of a year-end deficit or a structural deficit that could impact future years. Such potential deficits shall be identified based on the periodic reviews, which may also include on-site visits and reporting in accordance with the provisions of § 45-12-22.2. Potential deficits shall be reported to the office of municipal finance, office of auditor general, superintendent, chairperson of the school committee, mayor or town manager, and the president of the town council, of the applicable school district, regional school district, or state school, and/or for a charter school, to the board of trustees or directors, as applicable.

History of Section.
(P.L. 2004, ch. 595, art. 23, § 8; P.L. 2012, ch. 241, art. 12, § 1; P.L. 2013, ch. 284, § 1; P.L. 2013, ch. 399, § 1; P.L. 2014, ch. 489, § 1; P.L. 2016, ch. 142, art. 11, § 1.)