Educators watching accounting battle

Regulation poses problem for school districts with career centers, like Nichols

All 11 members of Missouri’s congressional delegation want U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to explain why he won’t waive a federal regulation that requires the nation’s post-secondary schools to use one accounting system when filing annual financial reports.

In a two-page letter dated Thursday, Missouri’s two U.S. senators and nine representatives acknowledged federal regulations since 1997 have required post-secondary education institutions to submit their annual financial statements to the Education Department “prepared on an accrual basis, in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) requirements.”

But many of Missouri’s career centers are part of local school districts, which aren’t part of the post-secondary accounting requirements. The Jefferson City district owns and operates the Nichols Career Center, which also provides classes for both adults and high school students from Helias Catholic High School and a number of other area public school districts.

The lawmakers’ letter noted, “For most schools, many of which are rural, changing an entire school district’s accounting system for one affiliated career center necessitates an expense that many school districts simply cannot afford.”

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