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Stories From the Field: 2023 CASBO Annual Conference

The Annual CASBO Conference continues to be one of the largest and most impactful conferences that our team attends during the school year. This year, we had the amazing opportunity co-present with Nickie Hoff, from Riverside Unified School District. Read on to discover what we learned at this year's conference. 

Why were you interested in attending CASBO?

Dawn Sawyer - CASBO keeps us on the beat regarding what responsibilities, challenges, and new trends our district business offices are focused on. The high-level legislative pieces give us overriding themes that business leadership is tasked with and the more granular sessions give us insight into ways we can best support the efficiency of their district operations. It’s a great way to learn best practices and connect with current and potential partners to nurture relationships and start to build new ones.

Lupe Lugo - I completely agree with Dawn. 

Additionally, Our platform serves a significant percentage of California School Districts, giving us unique insight into how these districts operate, communicate, and where they often face challenges. This experience allows us to be a hub of best practices and provides us with a unique opportunity to help districts across the state solve similar challenges. We have so much to share with others and can learn a lot from them too.

At this year's conference, we were fortunate to co-present with our partner, Nickie Hoff from Riverside USD. Nickie shared her payroll timesheet project, showcasing the project management and change management strategies she used, what she learned, and what adjustments she made as a result. I believe that Nickie’s presentation exemplified what a solution provider/client partnership should look like.

Zyaire Levesque - I want to be on the ground floor with our district leaders to hear what they want from vendors, stay up-to-date with the latest trends, and learn from the experts. In addition to networking and learning from experts, CASBO provides an opportunity to gain valuable insights from other districts. You can learn from the successes and challenges of other districts, and apply these lessons to your own district partners.

What were some of the trending topics discussed?

Lupe - Position control and the importance of clearing all hiring requests through the Cabinet to ensure that the approvals and communication get to all the right people. The panelist described a scenario where a newly hired employee was not paid because Fiscal was unaware of the hiring. 

Budget codes were also discussed frequently. Budget codes roll over year after year, even when the balances are insignificant, this creates a nightmare for fiscal services. The panelist for this session shared that he was working on reducing the 8,000 budget codes which is a painstaking process but worth it.

Zyaire - “How to Collaborate with the IT Department” by Robert Sidford @ Mt. Diablo. Robert hosted an insightful session on how district leaders can build strong relationships with their IT departments. The IT department wants to be on the ground floor and given a chance to solve the district's technical problems. Oftentimes they probably know the solution already. Understand they aren’t staffed to fix everything or implement but the earlier they can be in the conversation then the easier it is for a smoother transition. Like most IT Directors we speak to, they want to make sure their vendors are in compliance and security standards check all the boxes.

 Robert, in full transparency, admits that sometimes you have to go around IT from time to time. Sometimes IT isn’t willing to have a conversation that requires the depth it needs or may say NO you can’t do this. They get that. Build a relationship early, with kindness, and collaboration instead of when you just need them to fix things. We need more IT Directors speaking at events! 

What are some stories from the field?

Dawn - Over and over again, timesheets on paper and the complete time drain on staff with manual data entry and difficulty with tracking. There's so much paper and the volume of timesheets creates challenges with accuracy, visibility, and data entry. One common theme was that employees will claim they turned in a timesheet and yet there’s no actual proof it was submitted on paper.