It is an honor to serve as the Peoria Unified School District’s Chief Financial Officer.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of my role is interacting with our many community members, parents and business leaders.
These education stakeholders often reach out with questions related to school finance, and I appreciate the opportunity to provide insight on how Peoria Unified uses each dollar that is entrusted to us by our community.
In addition to taxpayer dollars, I recognize that our school district and staff are also entrusted with our parents’ most valuable resource – their children. We do not take this trust for granted and work each day to appropriately and effectively steward our funding resources to ensure the greatest impact for our students.
Our commitment to fiscal responsibility is memorialized in our Strategic Plan where Stewardship of Financial Resources is a dedicated key perspective. Through this area, the district demonstrates transparency, compliance, and strong fiscal management to support teaching and learning. To ensure this happens, Peoria Unified has checks and balances in place that are required by the state of Arizona and federal government. This includes everything from annual financial and program audits by outside agencies to mandated reporting that is submitted to the Arizona Auditor General and Arizona Department of Education each year. The district also has governing board approved policy and procedures related to budget and finance that ensures district decision making is informed and optimizes our finite resources.
For community members who want to further engage in this work, the district is required each year to publicly adopt our annual operating budget at an open meeting and public hearing. Through this process, anyone is able to speak to how the district is proposing to spend its dollars.
Our annual budget must be balanced and is submitted to the Arizona Department of Education. To further demonstrate transparency, we have posted the last 10 years of financial budgets, reports, and audited financial statements on our district’s website.
Our commitment extends beyond financial stewardship, and recently Peoria Unified convened a superintendent’s committee to review how we are using our facilities to determine that they are not under or overutilized. This team is diving into data related to each school site to ensure district facility utilization is optimized to support student learning or the specific programming that takes place on each campus.
Effective stewardship and management of a $323 million dollar annual budget takes a collaborative and engaged effort by our Business Services Department, Leadership Team and Governing Board. Peoria Unified’s ongoing commitment in the area of fiscal management and compliance is recognized annually during our financial audit. The district recently received a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association, the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting. The district also received recognition from the Association of School Business Officials International for meeting the highest standards for financial reporting and transparency.
Of course, none of the work we do to make sure students achieve their fullest potential would be possible without our supportive community. I would like to thank our voters for continuing the district’s 13% maintenance and operations override to ensure we have the staff and resources it takes to teach and support 36,000 students. The maintenance and operations override continuation will ensure that vital funds are in place to support the teachers, staff, and programs that make the district an incredible place to work and learn.
To learn more about Peoria Unified’s Strategic Plan or to view the district’s annual financial reports, please visit the website at PeoriaUnified.org.
Editor's note: Michelle Myers is the Peoria Unified School District Chief Financial Officer.