More eyes will be on Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200's finances with the creation of a new Community Finance Committee. School board members voted unanimously to authorize the committee's creation during their March 22 regular board meeting.
The new committee will be managed by Superintendent Joylynn Pruitt-Adams, who will serve as an ex-officio member alongside two board members; Tod Altenburg, OPRF's chief business official; another district administrator; and five appointed community members.
The standing committee is designed to provide the school board and administration "with ongoing expertise and guiding regarding the District's fiscal operations," according to a memo authored by Altenburg and board member Craig Iseli, the committee's chief architects.
The committee has been charged with reviewing the work of the Financial Advisory Committee, a body formed in 2013 primarily to look into the district's fund balance. The committee dissolved that same year after crafting a series of finance-related recommendations for the district to follow.
One of those recommendations was for the board to create a five-year plan "to address historically financial management challenges, concerns about the district's fund balance and planning for future investments."
District officials said that the new community finance committee also aligns with the district's strategic plan. Although the group's input will be "strictly advisory," its members will still have a significant voice in how the district forms financial policy.
The committee's particular functions will include examining five-year financial projections on a semi-annual basis, providing input during the annual budgeting process and reviewing the district's investment portfolio.
Community members will serve as chair and vice chair of the committee, and members will serve for two-year terms that will be staggered. No committee member will serve more than four terms. The committee will meet at least quarterly and up to six times a year, depending on the issues the group is tackling.
Each quarter, the committee chair will provide the school board with a brief written report on the district's finances, and each year the chair will provide a written report and make a presentation to the board on a range of financial issues.
Iseli and Altenburg added that agendas will be posted ahead of all of the committee's meetings, which will also be open to the public for comment "to promote transparency."
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