Best Practices to Keep Your School Moving in the Right Direction

by Senior Accounting Manager, Emily Cook 

While the mission of most private schools is to educate students and provide a safe, comfortable environment for learning, it is important to focus on the “behind the scenes” activities that keep schools ticking. In order to keep the lights on, teachers happy, comply with regulations, ensure sustainability and ultimately, serve students, private schools need to implement several best practices including:

Internal Controls

Many schools struggle with segregating duties due to small accounting and administrative teams. As such, it is important to identify the highest areas of fraud risk, create and document sound policies to mitigate these risks, and continually monitor and tweak these procedures.

Streamlined Systems

Technology is changing the playing field for accounting and administrative processes by automating processes and reducing or eliminating manual entry. Today’s systems can “talk” to each other and increase the accuracy of data and the efficiency of the flow of information. Many of these systems are cloud-based applications that provide access from anywhere at anytime. Implementing streamlined systems allows school leaders to focus less on transactions and more on management decisions.

Financial Reporting, Budgeting and Cash Management

Most schools create budgets on the accrual basis of accounting. However, at times, these budgets do not directly correlate to the cash position of the organization. Due to the cyclical nature of school finances, it is important to maintain a balanced budget as well as forecast and monitor your cash position throughout the year. By looking forward, schools are able to proactively establish and maintain appropriate cash reserves. There are several new accounting standards and pronouncements which will affect many types of organizations, including schools. Schools must stay abreast of updates and revisions and incorporate these changes in a timely manner.


The corporate structure of schools vary, but many compliance issues remain the same between organizations including: classifying employees vs. contractors, identifying exempt vs. non-exempt employees, determining unrelated business income tax, and complying with sales tax regulations. It is important to be aware of these laws and ensure your activities comply with applicable regulations.

Strategic Planning

Sustainability in schools is paramount. In order to ensure your organization will be around to serve future generations, you must have a strong leadership team, short and long term strategic goals and clearly identified strategies.


With over 25 years of combined experience, the professionals of SST can provide seasoned advice to keep your school on the path of success. For more information, contact Emily Cook at .