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School 3 did have a finance policy which had been drawn up by the previous SGB – Principal 3; Parent 3 and Educator 3 agreed that the policy need to be reviewed and refined.

Schools 2; 5; 6; 8 and 9 admitted that they did not have the required finance policy but would, as a matter of urgency, develop one in consultation with all relevant stakeholders.

Clarke (2008; 282) states that the school governing body normally delegates a number of financial duties to the principal but they remain responsible should problems arise. Because of this the governing body must ensure that there are proper polices and procedures in place for the management of the schools finances and that they have a system of monitoring and reporting to ensure that the policies and procedures are correctly implemented. This view is supported by Gann in Mestry (2006; 34) who states that in order for a school to manage its finances efficiently and effectively a school finance policy must be developed, adopted by all relevant stakeholders and implemented accordingly. The governing body should be in at the start of each process of either creating or reviewing a policy or procedure.

4.3.3.theme 3: ineffective financial controls

Most of the participants regarded financial control as one of the main responsibilities of the school governing body. While the school principal is responsible for the management of the income and expenditure and the assets and liabilities the oversight function, that is control of finances is the function of the Finance Committee (FINCOM). The interviews also revealed that the composition of FINCOMs, where they existed, differed from school to school. The literature review indicated that one of the prerequisites for the allocation of Section 21 functions was the existence of a functioning FINCOM, however during the interviews it emerged that there was absolutely no follow up by both the district and the province to verify its existence.

Principal 1: “At present we do not have a FINCOM, our school clerk (finance officer) is on protracted sick leave and there is no treasurer – I sometimes collect school fees, bank monies and am a signatory to all cheques. Am I possibly opening myself up to financial mismanagement?”

Parent 1: “Because we do not have a FINCOM and treasure I sign about ten blank cheques every month so that the school can pay its accounts.”

Educator 1 expressed shock and outrage at what was happening at his school. He stated that it was a dangerous situation as the principal could easily cash a cheque (for personal use) and nobody would be the wiser.

Similar scenarios prevailed at the majority of the other schools in the sampled sites.

Educator 5 explained that the principal and SGB chairperson had signed cheques for the purchase of textbooks last year (2008). These books were paid for but never delivered. The Superintendent (of Education) knows about this but has done nothing.

Educator 4: “The principal and the chairman of the SGB run the schools finances and we, as stakeholders, are never consulted.”

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Source:  OpenStax, Financial management of schools. OpenStax CNX. Nov 16, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11137/1.1
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