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Finance

Debra Jacoby

Debra Jacoby, CPA
Chief Financial Officer/Treasurer  / Biography

Tirish Williams
Trish Williams
Deputy Chief Financial Officer / Biography

Email Finance

The Finance Division is actually divided into several departments. These departments include Accounting, Payroll, Treasury, Financial Reporting, Federal Programs, and Human Resources, as well as the Adult Education program and Student Data and Assessment.

The Finance Division develops and monitors the district’s budget, classifying revenues and expenditures correctly, and preparing all financial reports and statements. Staff also coordinate the annual audit and maintain compliance with all state and federal regulations and reports pertaining to the fiscal operations of the district.

Cynthia Solomon

Cynthia Solomon
Senior Executive Director
of Human Resources
/ Biography
 
Jackie White

Jackie White
Senior Executive Director
of Federal Programs
/ Biography
Gail Easterling

Gail Easterling, CPA
Director of Accounting
/ Biography

Cathy Bentley

Cathy (Smart) Bentley, CPA
Director of Financial Reporting
/Treasury / Biography

Christine Bunyard

Christine Bunyard,
Director of Payroll /
Biography

Rebecca Byers

Rebecca Byers
Associate Director of
Budgeting & Treasury / Biography

Union SchoolsThe district’s finances are classified within several funds, including the General Fund, Building Fund, Child Nutrition Fund, the debt service fund, and Bond Funds. The largest of these, the General Fund, is used to pay salaries of teaching and support staff members, purchase classroom supplies and textbooks, and utility and insurance costs. On average, salaries and benefits make up more than 80 percent of general fund expenditures.

The Human Resources department manages employee relations and benefits.. Pupil Accounting coordinates enrollment and manages student statistics, working closely with Teaching and Learning.

Budgets

Economic Condition and Outlook

Union SchoolsUnion Public Schools is located within the Tulsa Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), a seven-county area whose population exceeds 969,224 or 25 percent of the population of the state of Oklahoma. The Tulsa Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce reports Tulsa’s major industries as aerospace; transportation, distribution and logistics; electrical equipment manufacturing and aviation; and health care. The Chamber estimates the value of all goods and services produced in the Tulsa MSA for 2014 as $50.0 billion, or 30.7 percent of the Oklahoma economy.

Forbes recently named Tulsa the 70th best place to do business and have a career. Tulsa’s economy grew faster than the U.S. average in 2014 in both employment and in the production of goods and ser- vices, but a fourth quarter drop in oil prices has negatively affected gross domestic product and employment outlook for 2015. Despite this negative impact, Tulsa continues to be a prime location for employers looking to relocate or expand due to a low cost of doing business at 15 percent below the U.S. average; a desirable central location; and a cost of living that is 11 percent below the U.S. average. According to the Tulsa Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, em- ployment should continue to increase by .08 percent in 2015, down slightly from 1.6 percent in 2014 as a result of oil prices impacting employment with no additional hiring or layoffs.

Many publications have praised the Tulsa MSA for strong economic rankings, including:

  • #2 – “Best Cities to Start a Business” – WalletHub, 2015
  • #5 – “Most Affordable Big Cities in the U.S.” – Kiplinger, 2015
  • #10 – “Ten Best Cities for New Grads to Launch Their Careers” – The Fiscal Times, 2015
  • #10 – “20 Best Places to Live in Your 20’s” – WalletHub, 2015
  • #37 – “Best Cities for Cost of Doing Business” – Forbes, 2015

The area’s economy has continued to remain strong in the national and international financial markets despite reductions in oil prices. The Office of the State Treasurer maintains reports that the state end- ed fiscal year 2015 with 1.8 percent higher revenues than the prior year. The slight increase in revenue is attributed to various economic indicators such as gross income tax (up 6.5 percent) and sales tax (up

3.4 percent). A reduction in oil prices has hindered revenue collec- tion increases for FY 2015, although collections are higher than FY 2014.

The unemployment rate in the Tulsa MSA was 5.7 percent in 2013, and then decreased to a 2014 level of 4.8 percent, with a 2015 project- ed rate of 4.0 percent, 1.5 percent below the U.S. average. The Tulsa Chamber projects the unemployment rate will continue to decrease through 2019 despite drops in oil prices.

Union Public Schools contributes to Tulsa’s workplace initiatives by offering community programs for both adults and children such as:

  • Adult Basic Education – classes for adults who need basic instruction in reading, writing, math, and lifeskills,
  • Workplace Education – links education goals to the employer’s desire for high performance work and product quality,
  • GED Preparation – instruction to prepare adults to take the Tests of General Educational Development (GED),
  • English as a Second Language (ESL) – instruction to non-English-speaking adults to help them be productive citizens of our community. 

The Adult Education program exceeded their goal in school year 2014-2015 by serving over 3,300 students. Due to program expansion that includes six Northeastern Oklahoma counties and 50 classes, the program predicts continued growth in school year 2015-2016 with estimates beyond 3,500 adults.

In addition to helping many adults in the community, Union Public Schools has formed relationships with numerous Tulsa area programs including:

  • Asbury Learning Center
  • The Carrera Program
  • CAP (Community Action Project)
  • Department of Human Services
  • Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa
  • Metropolitan Tulsa Urban League
  • South Tulsa Community House
  • Northeastern State University
  • Oklahoma State University
  • Tulsa Community College
  • Tulsa Technology Center
  • Workforce Tulsa Eastgate Metroplex, Pryor, and Muskogee

The District provides opportunities for community involvement through Community Schools, a program that connects businesses, lo- cal agencies, and foundations with Union Public Schools to improve quality of life for students, families, and surrounding areas. Utilizing the Tulsa Area Community Schools Initiative vision, Union continues to work with organizations to provide activities and programs that bring communities closer.

STEM programs continue to provide positive educational learning opportunities at Union Public Schools.  Through access to cutting-edge labs from elementary to the Union Collegiate Academy, the STEM program provides a unique approach to learning to further students’ interests in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.

Union Public Schools sustains efforts to deliver superior healthcare to the district. A collaborative effort between the University of Oklahoma (OU) Bedlam Community Health Clinic and Union Public Schools produces cutting-edge services for the Union community.    

The Union Public Schools Bedlam School-Based Health Clinic operates at both Roy Clark Elementary School and Rosa Parks Elemen- tary School.  These clinics provide a convenient way for students to receive a wide range of health care services, which operate at no cost to the school district. The primary goal of the clinics is to serve families of all children in each of the schools, including those who qualify for Medicaid or have no health insurance. The clinics provide at least one full-time physician’s assistant or a resident physician. In addition, a pediatrician visits each clinic as part of a rotating schedule. The physicians work with and assist school nurses.

In addition to student health care, Union partners with the University of Oklahoma Physicians-Tulsa to provide low cost medical services for employees through a recently renovated employee clinic. This unique partnership provides access to quality health care while controlling escalating health care costs. The clinic is staffed by a fully-licensed OU physician, a physician’s assistant, and a licensed practical nurse. Limited pharmaceutical services are also available at the clinic.

Enrollment

Union has experienced significant growth in the past decade. During the 2005-2006 school year, the district recorded total enrollment of 14,101. In 2014-2015, enrollment reached 15,823. Administration projects enrollment in the 2015-2016 school year to exceed 16,000 students with the continuation of the four-year-old program at every elementary site and the three-year-old program together serving approximately 1,023 students. Additional enrollment details may be found in the Statistical Section of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

Facilities

To accommodate growth in student population, the district maintains over 3-million square feet of facilities, including thirteen elementary schools (grades Pre-K-5), a Sixth/Seventh Grade Center, an Eighth Grade Center, a Ninth Grade Center, a High School (grades 10-12), an Alternative School serving high school students, a Transportation/ Operations/Warehouse Complex, and an Education Service Center. The district’s newest projects include expansion of the Eighth Grade Center, which includes a fine arts wing, gym, athletic area, parking lot and bus loop, and the purchase of additional land to be used as the future site of the next elementary. Please refer to the Statistical Section of this Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for additional facility details.

Bond Funds 

Union SchoolsOn February 10, 2015, district voters approved a $27-million bond proposal for various school projects including the building of a new elementary, as well as expanding class- room space at Rosa Parks Elementary; providing funds for basic, but critical capital improvements; acquisition of textbooks, media books and instructional hardware/soft-
ware; instructional technology and operations equipment; building repairs and renovations to sites districtwide.

In February 2016, voters approved two propositions in the district's $27 Million school bond election.  Passing both propositions with nearly 81% approval,  Union was able to begin construction on its 14th elementary school, purchase school buses, and address a number of capital needs throughout district.

Grants/Federal Programs

During the 2014-2015 school year, Union received more than $13.81 million in federal grant money, up $1.84 million from the previous year. The largest contributors to the inflation of federal money in- clude Title I, Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA), Adult Education, and Carl Perkins, which all saw increases.

Major Initiatives - See Legislation Page

Internal Control

Management of the district is responsible for establishing and maintaining an internal control structure designed to ensure that the assets of the district are protected from loss, theft or misuse and to ensure that adequate accounting data is compiled to allow for the preparation of financial statements in conformity with generally ac- cepted accounting principles (GAAP). The internal control structure is designed to provide reasonable, but not absolute, assurance that these objectives are met. The concept of reasonable assurance recog- nizes that 1) the cost of a control should not exceed the benefits likely to be derived; and 2) the valuation of costs and benefits requires estimates and judgments by management.

Long-Term Financial Planning

Union SchoolsThe Board of Education of Union Public Schools, in conjunction with the Superintendent and Chief Financial Officer, establishes a system of sound financial planning and management to assure that the district’s objectives are addressed and that funds are expended in accordance with plans expressed through the Board budget. The financial management system components include:

  1. 1a planning process that con- sists of a review of state statutes, Board policies, concepts, ideas, problems, constraints, approaches and systems before dollar amounts are established in the budget; and
  2. a budget that is the expression of the plans of the Board through three main budgets – the General Fund, a Special Revenue Fund, and the Child Nutrition Fund.

Budgetary Controls

The district utilizes budgetary controls to ensure compliance with legal appropriation limitations and to provide an operating plan for the district’s resources. The annual appropriated budget includes activity of the General, Special Revenue Funds, and Child Nutrition Funds. Capital projects activity is controlled with approval of project-length financial plans. Initial budgets are adopted at the beginning of the fiscal year with periodic amendments approved by the Board as necessary.

The level of budgetary control is maintained by fund, project, and function of the OCAS (Oklahoma Cost Accounting System.) Individual line items may be adjusted without Board action, but total budgeted expenditures may not exceed appropriations at the major fund level without Board approval. The district utilizes an encumbrance system as a technique of budgetary control with encumbered appropriations lapsing at year end.

Independent Audit

Oklahoma state statutes require an annual audit by independent certified public accountants. The accounting firm of RSM US LLP, was selected by the Board to conduct the audit. In addition to meeting the requirements set forth in state statutes, the audit was also designed to meet the requirements of the Federal Single Audit Act of 1984 and related Uniform Grant Guidance (UGG). The auditor’s report on the basic financial statements is included in the financial section of this report.

The auditor’s report on the basic financial statements is included in the financial section of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.