The Pickerington Schools district recently received an award given to school districts in the U.S. and Canada for excellence in budget presentation.

District officials announced Feb. 10 they received the Meritorious Budget Award from the Association of School Business Officials International.

The association was founded in 1910 and is an educational organization that supports school business professionals in their quests to provide quality education.

The award recognizes districts for budget preparation and "setting a high standard for transparent budget development," according to the association's website.

Pickerington Schools Treasurer Ryan Jenkins said award recipients submit applications and budget documents to a panel of school financial professionals who review the materials for compliance with the association's criteria checklist and other requirements. The association then provides feedback districts can use to improve their budget documents.

"We are pleased to continue the tradition of excellence in financial reporting across all facets of our fiscal operations -- comprehensive annual reporting and popular annual reporting, which present the most recently completed fiscal year and now comprehensive budgetary reporting, which shows forecasted budgets for the current fiscal year juxtaposed with the actual financial numbers from the four most recent fiscal years, and the forecast for the next three fiscal years," Jenkins said.

"The district strives to be completely transparent with its use of community resources."

This year is the first time the district has received the award, district officials said.

Additionally, the district has received the Outstanding Achievement in Popular Annual Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association for five consecutive years, as well as that assocciations's Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for 11 straight years.

"The Association of School Business Officials International has an annual program for member school districts across the world," Jenkins said.

"The district applied for the award, and a panel of judges reviewed and scored the district's comprehensive budget.

"The scores achieved by the district warranted the Meritorious Budget Award for the 2019-2020 budget document."

Pickerington Schools Superintendent Chris Briggs said although the district already receives recognition from the state for its financial recordkeeping and transparency, the district "is continually working to improve and refine our fiscal reporting efforts.

"What we especially liked about ASBO's Meritorious Budget Award is that the judging criteria closely aligns with our district's goals for financial reporting and our Plan for Progress," Briggs said.

He said areas reviewed for the Meritorious Budget Award that align with the district's Plan for Progress include:

* Skills in developing an effective budget presentation

* Compliance with clear budget presentation guidelines

* Commitment to the community through a reader-friendly budget document

* Adherence to nationally recognized budget presentation standards.

According to Jenkins, the district's 2019-20 budget for all funds is projected at approximately $179.3 million.

The district's general fund budget for this school year, which covers teacher salaries and day-to-day operations, is estimated at approximately $125.8 million.

Jenkins said the district's capital projects expenditures for 2019-20 are forecast at $3.313 million.

"We believe (the award) shows that district leadership -- administration and the Board of Education -- is committed to communicating its financial information to our community accurately, and in an open and straightforward manner," he said.

"As part of the Plan4Progress, we strive to be prepared, transparent and effective in our stewardship of the district's and community's resources.

"Our taxpayers should expect all forms of government across all levels -- local, state and federal -- to uphold principles of sound financial management, transparency and accuracy to ensure that resources are wisely and effectively expended. We take that charge very seriously."