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Common School Fund Accountability

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The Board of Commissioners of Public Lands does impeccable work managing the Common School Fund for our Wisconsin public school libraries. The Department of Public Instruction distributes Common School Funds, and districts are accountable for ensuring they are spent appropriately. Language in Wisconsin Statute 43.70(3) states, “Appropriate records of all purchases under this section shall be kept and necessary reports thereon shall be made to the state superintendent.” Purchasing Guidelines for meeting statutory criteria are provided and regularly reviewed.

The Department of Public Instruction recommends that school districts make budgeting for Common School Funds a part of the long-range library planning specified in Wisconsin Administrative Code PI-8.01(2)(h)1. The Future Ready Librarian Framework, which aligns with the Wisconsin Digital Learning Plan, is a useful foundational tool for this process. Additional resources related to long-range library planning are found in the School Library Planning Group in WISELearn Resources. The School Library Education Consultant, Monica Treptow , provides support for districts budgeting Common School Funds and working on long-range planning.

Districts are required to submit the PI-1505 Annual Report on or before the third Friday in September each year. Addenda A82 of the PI-1505 Annual Report requires each district to report the expenditures by object and function that were spent on Common School Fund purchases. Common School Fund revenues are expected to be spent in the fiscal year they are received. If Common School Fund revenues were not spent in the fiscal year received, districts are required to report unspent funds as Fund Balance Restricted for Unspent Common School Funds at year end. Roger Kordus , School Finance Consultant, supports districts with this process. PI-1505 Annual Reports are made available to the public by the School Financial Services team.

The Department of Public Instruction also has the statutory responsibility to prescribe financial audit requirements (s.120.14, Wisconsin Statutes) for Wisconsin school districts. Local school boards hire independent audit firms to perform audits in accordance with statutory requirements, including appropriate auditing standards. If Common School Fund (Library Aid) is required to be tested based on the auditor risk assessment, the DPI has a Common School Fund (Library Aid) audit program that provides audit procedures to test compliance requirements for the state program.