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School District Reviews Scholarship $$, Process

As the needs and responsibilities of Oakdale Joint Unified staff continues to grow it is perhaps a time when the mantra of work smarter, not harder is truly seeing fruition.

Evidence of this mindset became apparent at the January OJUSD School Board meeting as Chief Business Officer Kassandra Booth addressed the topic of scholarship disbursement, as well as scholarship funds.

Issue specific, Booth addressed the 58 scholarships which the district business office is responsible for paying out once recipients are identified by the donor.

“It is the student’s responsibility to submit proof of enrollment at an educational institution to the business department prior to a check being issued,” Booth shared with the board, indicating that upon being notified of being chosen for any of the 58 scholarships (aside from Leo Volz), students are provided with documentation outlining their responsibilities as recipients of the awards.

Value of the scholarships overseen by the OJUSD Business office may vary in amount from $100 to $2,000 and in some instances more than one student may be chosen for any one scholarship. Recurring scholarships require the student to resubmit proper documentation outlining proof of continued qualification for the award.

“It does take a lot of the district’s resources to manage these scholarships,” she said, regarding work by business office as well as career office personnel to identify and issue the scholarship awards. “But it’s well worth it for our students.”

Board member Mike House inquired if recipients of multi-year scholarships are reminded each year of documentation needed to maintain their award.

Recognizing the work, as well as the time taken by the business office specific to the 58 scholarships, Superintendent Marc Malone weighed in on the topic.

“I can answer that,” Malone interjected. “They’re not reminded. They’re notified at the time that they receive the scholarship what the parameters of the scholarship are. Those that are multi-year at that point they are 18-year-old adults and we’re going to treat them like it and communicate it that way.”

Booth echoed Malone’s sentiments noting that the parameters of each award are very clear.

Being mindful of the donors contributing to the 58 scholarships, Booth noted that in some cases awards go unused if students do not complete their end of the obligation by way of proof or registering at an educational institution. The students are given one year in which to identify such information.

To clear up any confusion as well as inform the 58 scholarship donors, Booth shared that the business office is committed to providing donors an account balance twice yearly, in December and June.

“Going forward, the business department will send out account balances and transaction activity to each of the scholarship entities twice a year, as of December and June balances,” she said.

This information will be sent so that the account holders are aware of funds which were claimed, as well as still available. Booth also recommended to the board the idea of opening a local account with Oak Valley Bank versus the current county treasury account where scholarship funds are held.

“The reason I am recommending this is so that turnaround time could be a lot quicker,” she said, in terms of deposits as well as issuing checks to students.

The Chief Business Officer estimates by banking locally the turnaround would go to two to three days as opposed to two weeks in waiting for a check. The change would be implemented in the 2020/2021 school year.