Real Stories

Safeguarding Funds Collected in Schools

After battling a high-profile fraud case involving a former school bookkeeper, the Burnaby School District was looking for a way to safeguard all the fees collected in its schools. Using the School Cash Suite, the district introduced new financial software tools that transformed the management and security of its school assets.

About the Burnaby School District

About the Burnaby School District

With 24,000 students across 49 schools, the Burnaby School District is one of the largest public school districts in British Columbia. The district’s schools each collect an average of $127k annually in various school fees, totalling approximately $6.2M across the district. A top priority for the district is ensuring that every dollar collected is securely accounted for, transparent across stakeholders, and put back into schools to provide equitable access to school activities. To the Burnaby School District, the expenditure of funds is regarded as a community trust and they endeavor to see that funds are expended efficiently, economically and in the best interest of the learners.

With 24,000 students across 49 schools, the Burnaby School District is one of the largest public school districts in British Columbia. The district’s schools each collect an average of $127k annually in various school fees, totalling approximately $6.2M across the district. A top priority for the district is ensuring that every dollar collected is securely accounted for, transparent across stakeholders, and put back into schools to provide equitable access to school activities. To the Burnaby School District, the expenditure of funds is regarded as a community trust and they endeavor to see that funds are expended efficiently, economically and in the best interest of the learners.

Collecting Cash in Schools

Collecting Cash in Schools

In the past, schools within the district relied on a completely manual process to collect various school fees. Teachers, coaches, and other school staff would collect cash before submitting it to the school office. As is common in the K-12 education space, the manual cash collection process made it difficult for funds to be properly monitored. The abundance of cash onsite created an environment susceptible to theft and mismanagement.

In the past, schools within the district relied on a completely manual process to collect various school fees. Teachers, coaches, and other school staff would collect cash before submitting it to the school office. As is common in the K-12 education space, the manual cash collection process made it difficult for funds to be properly monitored. The abundance of cash onsite created an environment susceptible to theft and mismanagement.

Major Fraud Incident Makes Headlines

Major Fraud Incident Makes Headlines

In 2012, the Burnaby School District charged one of its former school bookkeepers with defrauding a Burnaby secondary school. The case centred around dozens of bogus cheques from the school that the bookkeeper pocketed directly. It was also suspected that cash collected for student fees was stolen. This activity slowly took place over 2 years and the district estimates that over $100,000 was taken by the bookkeeper.

In 2012, the Burnaby School District charged one of its former school bookkeepers with defrauding a Burnaby secondary school. The case centred around dozens of bogus cheques from the school that the bookkeeper pocketed directly. It was also suspected that cash collected for student fees was stolen. This activity slowly took place over 2 years and the district estimates that over $100,000 was taken by the bookkeeper.

The True Cost of Fraud

The True Cost of Fraud

Fraud doesn’t always manifest itself on a large scale, as seen at the Burnaby secondary school. Often times, it comes in the form of $20 “borrowed” to buy lunch. Although this may seem insignificant, it can add up fast. Districts need to be seen as strong stewards of public funds. When parents, volunteers, and school staff see that the funds they worked hard to raise are not being protected, they can lose trust in their district. Further, if a fraud case goes to court, it places a large burden on district employees. In the case of the Burnaby secondary school, the trial lasted for nearly 4 years and required the attention of everyone from the school’s principal to district finance staff.

Fraud doesn’t always manifest itself on a large scale, as seen at the Burnaby secondary school. Often times, it comes in the form of $20 “borrowed” to buy lunch. Although this may seem insignificant, it can add up fast. Districts need to be seen as strong stewards of public funds. When parents, volunteers, and school staff see that the funds they worked hard to raise are not being protected, they can lose trust in their district. Further, if a fraud case goes to court, it places a large burden on district employees. In the case of the Burnaby secondary school, the trial lasted for nearly 4 years and required the attention of everyone from the school’s principal to district finance staff.

Fraud Proofing Schools

Fraud Proofing Schools

To reduce the risk of future instances of fraud, the district knew it had to build the financial structure to reduce cash in schools, track school fees, and enforce internal controls. With the leadership team aligned, the district was about to change the way school fees had been managed for decades. They knew that the new solution would only be successful if they could get principals, bookkeepers, and parents to embrace the new way of doing things. Finding a solution that was user friendly and easy to learn was a high priority. The district placed its trust in the School Cash Suite for this initiative. Using the system, several fraud prevention measures were implemented.

 

Check mark symbol Online Payments: fees began to be collected online and were deposited directly into the school bank account to take cash out of the schools.

Check mark symbol Audit Trail: transactions collected online or within the schools began to be recorded digitally and were accessible through reports in real-time.

Check mark symbol Internal Controls: the district implemented standard processes for cash handling, bank reconciliations, and financial reporting.

To reduce the risk of future instances of fraud, the district knew it had to build the financial structure to reduce cash in schools, track school fees, and enforce internal controls. With the leadership team aligned, the district was about to change the way school fees had been managed for decades. They knew that the new solution would only be successful if they could get principals, bookkeepers, and parents to embrace the new way of doing things. Finding a solution that was user friendly and easy to learn was a high priority. The district placed its trust in the School Cash Suite for this initiative. Using the system, several fraud prevention measures were implemented.

 

Check mark symbol Online Payments: fees began to be collected online and were deposited directly into the school bank account to take cash out of the schools.

Check mark symbol Audit Trail: transactions collected online or within the schools began to be recorded digitally and were accessible through reports in real-time.

Check mark symbol Internal Controls: the district implemented standard processes for cash handling, bank reconciliations, and financial reporting.

A New Financial Structure

A New Financial Structure

Since implementing the School Cash Suite, bookkeepers and parents have been quick to embrace the system. Over 60% of funds are being collected online and never find their way into the schools. Bookkeepers can now easily track every fee and every associated payment through the system. This new digital audit trail has given the Burnaby School District new confidence in its ability to mitigate fraud. With the School Cash Suite, the district has been able to identify and stop potential fraud situations.

Since implementing the School Cash Suite, bookkeepers and parents have been quick to embrace the system. Over 60% of funds are being collected online and never find their way into the schools. Bookkeepers can now easily track every fee and every associated payment through the system. This new digital audit trail has given the Burnaby School District new confidence in its ability to mitigate fraud. With the School Cash Suite, the district has been able to identify and stop potential fraud situations.