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Making the Most of the Relationship with your Charter School Back Office Partner | Part 3 of 3

August 18, 2023

You’ve worked hard to choose the right charter school back office services partner, now it’s time to make the relationship flourish! A good relationship is built on a foundation of mutual understanding of expectations, roles, and responsibilities. Read on for a few best practices and tips for a smooth working relationship.

Clarify Responsibilities

Understanding what your charter school back office partner will provide for your school is critical. Once a school leader and board understand what is covered, they can fill any remaining gaps with additional staff or staff allocations to particular tasks. This understanding aids in the efficient completion of back office tasks and avoids costly mistakes that can be time consuming to fix.

Communication is Key

Address any communication and information transfer issues with internal staff and the back office partner quickly so efficient business routines are established from the outset of the relationship.

Quality Checks Start on Day One

Address response time and service level issues early so they do not become a problem. Gently, but firmly, keep the provider accountable for what is included in the contract to ensure that your needs and expectations are being met. Just as you do not settle for substandard work in the classroom, do not settle for it from your back office partner. And remember: excellence in the classroom can either be furthered or inhibited by the quality of your back office operations.

Delegate Internally

Assign a point person who is responsible for communicating with your back office partner for each function (e.g., accounts payable, payroll, etc.) Additionally, assign a person or team of people (e.g., school leader and board member) to oversee the work and make sure it all ties together. For example, a board member who is comfortable with financial statements should review the financial reports of the service provider and communicate questions and/or concerns.

Take the Time to Understand Your Financial Situation

Schedule time each month to review the financials in detail to understand your school’s current financial position, review budget variances, and discuss what assumptions are informing the forecast updates Even with a back office partner, charter school leaders will always need to be involved in critical decisions to ensure the financial stability of their school, and the board has fiduciary responsibility for the school.

Seek Guidance

Don’t hesitate to call upon the charter school back office support company for support. That’s what they’re there for; they’re your partner!

As a school leader, you put tremendous time, energy, and effort into ensuring that your students have the best teachers and the necessary resources to reach their potential. To ensure that your charter school, both as a business and learning center, reaches its highest potential, you need access to the finest support and resources.

If you’re interested in learning more about EdTec’s back office services and how we can support your school’s success, fill out the form below!  

charter school back office questions

Critical Questions to Ask When Choosing a Back Office Partner | Part 2 of 3

August 7, 2023

This is the second post of a three-part series on the stages of partnering with a back office support company for charter schools. The first part of the series explored the benefits of using a high-quality back office support company

Once your charter school has decided to work with a back office support company, the school’s leadership and board will need to determine which one is the best fit. A back office support company should be more than simply a vendor; it should be a strategic partner that has as much invested in the success of the school as the staff and board! While the handling of tasks and transactions will free up more time for you to focus on the school’s academic program, a true partner will help to align your budget and operations in support of that academic program.  

With so much at stake, it’s important to ask the right questions to ensure that your school makes an informed decision. The following questions will help you determine where your school needs support, understand the services included in the back office bundle, assess the company’s flexibility in adjusting to your needs over time, and evaluate their service delivery staffing model and overall experience.  

Where do we need help?

The foundation for any successful relationship is knowing what you bring to the partnership and what you need from your partner, so it is crucial that the school staff and board do their research and carefully choose a provider that matches those needs. Identify the gaps in skills and knowledge of your staff and board. Do you already have a well-staffed business office and need a bookkeeper to provide transactional support, or are you looking for CFO-level guidance to help you plan for financial stability? Do you need support finding and financing a facility? Are there certain back-office functions that you want to keep in house?

What specifically is included in the service bundle?

Understand what is offered and what is not. Seek detailed clarification on pricing, depth, and frequency of services. For example, how often are cash flow and budget forecasts updated? Does the company provide audit support? What tools are made available to the school for on-demand visibility to its financial data? Will company representatives attend your board meetings to present updates and answer questions? Then determine if those services and tools match the expectations and needs of the school staff and board.

Can the service flexibility adjust to my needs over time?

Ask if the provider will tailor services to your needs or if it’s a one-size-fits-all approach. What defined service level options are available? Further, as your school evolves and your needs change over time, will the provider adjust its scope to meet your requirements?

What is the service delivery staffing model?

Find out if the provider has specialized staff with deep expertise in each functional area or if a single individual is attempting to wear multiple hats. Ask how many schools are assigned to your primary support resource and find out each company’s staff to client ratio. Additionally, clarify if you will have direct access to transactional support teams to troubleshoot issues as they arise.

What will the service delivery experience be like?

While the back-office services described by different companies may appear to be similar on paper, there can be tangible differences related to service delivery approach, support levels, and communication. Your best course is to spend the necessary time speaking with current clients of each provider to hear firsthand about their experiences. You might ask about responsiveness to requests, turnaround time, accuracy in reporting and projections, knowledge of compliance requirements, and proactivity in planning for the future. Additionally, don’t be satisfied with a few reference schools that have been selected for you by the provider; ask providers for a complete list of their back-office clients so that you can choose which schools to contact when performing reference checks.

Choosing a back office support company for your charter school is a critical decision that can have a significant impact on the school’s financial and operational success. At EdTec, we understand the unique challenges and opportunities facing charter schools, and we’re committed to providing comprehensive, flexible, and responsive back office services that meet the specific needs of each school we work with. 

If you’re interested in learning more about EdTec’s back office services and how we can support your school’s success, fill out the form below!  

 

Charter School Back Office Questions to Ask

From Compliance to Cost Savings: How a Back Office Support Company Can Benefit Your Charter School | Part 1 of 3

July 31, 2023

As a charter school leader, running a successful school while fulfilling your school’s mission is your primary focus. However, you are also tasked with managing the business side of things, and smooth back office operations are critical to the success of every charter school. Keeping up with the administrative, business, and operations tasks with so much on your plate can be challenging. This is where a back office support company can help! Back office support companies provide a wide range of services to charter schools so that school leaders can focus their attention on where it matters most – fulfilling the vision of their charter.

The scope of back office services for charter schools varies, and may include accounting, budgeting, financial reporting and analysis, accounts payable and receivable, audit support, facilities, payroll, and human resources.  In this blog post, the first of a three-part series, we’ll explore five benefits of using a high-quality back office support company.

Focus on Providing Quality Education

Charter schools have an important mission to provide access to a high-quality public education. However, unlike traditional public schools, charters do not have a district central office to handle business functions. In turn, charter school leaders are responsible for both overseeing school operations and meeting the needs of students. By hiring a back office support company, charter school leaders can outsource the daily management of tasks such as payroll, budgeting, compliance, and financial reporting, freeing up more time to focus on educational outcomes. While charter school leaders will always need to be involved in critical decisions to ensure the financial stability of their school, a partnership with a back office support company allows them to do this together with experts.  

Cost Savings and Stability

Cost savings and stability are significant additional benefits of using a back office support company. By partnering with a third-party provider rather than hiring and managing a full-time business office staff, charter school leaders can leverage economies of scale that allow back office companies to provide services at a lower cost. This cost savings in administrative support frees up more dollars for the classroom, to invest in areas such as teacher salaries, facilities, educational materials, and equipment. Further, a back office company with scale provides critical stability to your school’s business operations by providing uninterrupted services and support. The outsourced back office model can insulate your school from the disruptions and related costs that would otherwise arise from school business office staff turnover, vacations, sick days, or medical leave in the purely internal staffing model. Although back office support companies are not immune to those staffing challenges, providers with scale have sufficient staffing capacity across functions and the structure to absorb and manage those disruptions, including the recruiting, hiring, and training of new staff, all while continuing to deliver uninterrupted service to their school clients. 

Expertise and Best Practices

Back office companies offer charter schools the expertise and experience to handle business tasks effectively and efficiently. Back office companies that specialize in supporting charter schools stay up to date on the latest sector best practices, funding sources, and related compliance requirements, to ensure that your school is running smoothly, maximizing available funding, and in compliance with local, state, and federal requirements. Additionally, a high-quality back office support company can provide insightful financial analysis and scenario modeling for proactive, strategic decision making. This specialized level of charter school expertise is especially valuable forstart-up charter schools

Scalability

Charter schools may experience rapid growth or fluctuating enrollment due to various external factors, making it challenging to manage operations effectively. However, some back office support companies offer scalable solutions meaning they can adjust their services to meet the current needs of your school, whether you’re experiencing growth or a downturn in enrollment. As a result, back office support companies offer the opportunity for charter schools to remain nimble and adapt to changing circumstances without sacrificing administrative support. 

Increased Transparency and Accountability

Charter schools are accountable to stakeholders and must meet high compliance standards and fiscal transparency. A back office support company can increase transparency and accountability in your school’s financial operations. As a third-party provider, a back office support company provides an objective view of your school’s financials, identifying areas where cost savings can be achieved or financial controls need to be strengthened. This level of oversight can help charter schools build trust with stakeholders, including parents, donors, and authorizers.  

 

In conclusion, there are many benefits to hiring a back office support company for your charter school. By delegating certain tasks to a back office provider, charter school leaders can reduce costs, benefit from expertise and best practices, scale appropriately, increase transparency and accountability – and, most importantly, have more time to focus on providing a high-quality education! 

If you’re considering a back office support company for your charter school, take time to research providers thoroughly and choose one that aligns with your school’s needs and values. If you want to learn more about EdTec’s back office services, contact us today! 

 

Why Now is the Best Time to Revise Your LCAP for Next Year!

by Jennifer Reyes, Ed.D., Educational Support Services Manager

October 2, 2018

California charter schools, think back to your experience updating your 17-18 LCAP.  Did you feel overwhelmed by too many goals and metrics?  Outdated actions and services?  Unclear budgeted expenditures?  Lack of available data for any of the sections?  If you experienced any of these frustrations, now is a great time to work on revising your 19-20 LCAP.

Why now? 

A central tenet of the Local Control Funding Formula is the engagement of all stakeholders in the process of updating and revising a school or district’s LCAP.  Starting the process now allows you time to bring the needs to your advisory bodies, Board, staff, parents, and secondary students.  If you work on the LCAP now you can engage your school site council in understanding the LCAP and develop proposed changes. Then you can bring it to the school community for input all in time for a smooth update next spring.

By contrast, schools that rush through changes in the spring may find there is no time to consider all relevant data and develop a plan that has full support and staying power.

What to do?

Here are some examples of changes schools can make to increase the relevance of the LCAP and improve the process:

  • Organize your metrics under a few (3-5) powerful goals that all stakeholders can articulate.
  • Set up your financials according to LCFF guidelines for base, supplemental, and concentration funds.
  • Update your actions and services to convey your school’s current initiatives.

A fall or winter revision also frees up the time you need to focus your spring efforts on the 18-19 LCAP Update that is due July 1. You will need to collect and analyze data from the current academic year during this time.  The LCAP process provides greater flexibility to LEAs to plan and measure their success, but at the same time demands a new level of organization, involvement, and transparency.  If your LCAP could use some improvement, there is no time like the present to get started!

If you have any questions about your LCAP or LCAP Support Services, feel free to reach out to Jennifer by filling out this form and she will get back to you.