Computerized financial planning for school districts in the United States : a thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Accountancy at Massey University, New Zealand
This thesis presents the results of research to discover if and how computerized financial planning is conducted in United States school districts. The aim of the project was to assist school board members and administrators with financial planning and decision making. The methodology included a literature survey of long range business and academic planning, financial planning, financial models and modeling. It was concluded that long range financial planning has been successfully implemented in business and tertiary educational institutions and would be effective for school districts. An integrated academic and financial planning model for school districts was normatively derived based on the literature. Primary planning variables reflecting academic policy decisions were identified, and tentative sub models for enrollments, staffing, and financial planning were described. Empirical work was conducted to fill "gaps" in the literature and gather descriptive evidence concerning the current state of financial planning and financial model design. As part of the empirical work, questionnaires were sent to all school district treasurers (616) in the State of Ohio. More than forty percent (43.3%) replied. It was found that more than half of the respondents (54.5%) have long range financial plans, but few school districts (20.5%) conduct financial planning on computers. Of the districts operating computerized financial models, 68.5% use micro computers in preference to mainframes or minis. School district treasurers and superintendents take part in almost all financial planning and/or budgeting whereas school board members participate only occasionally. Most school districts (96.5%) recognize the need for long range financial planning and would consider using computerized financial planning models designed specifically for school districts. The research suggests that important barriers to computerized financial planning are lack of money and expertise to design models appropriate for school districts. The integrated academic and financial planning model was computerized and tested by practitioners in the United States for completeness and usefulness. Changes were made to the model based on empirical work and field testing. The model is inexpensive, easy to use, and considered to be generic. It should prove helpful to school district decision makers.