Bright Futures Joplin On the Move
This year has been a different one for Bright Futures Joplin. With new district leadership and a focus on continuous improvement, BF Joplin has been working hard to step back and evaluate everything that we do – the what and the why – to ensure that we are doing the BEST things with our time and resources.
As a part of that process, the Bright Futures Joplin Advisory Board has been looking at ways to ensure the long-term sustainability of this important work. Through many conversations with community stakeholders, it has been made evident that there is a lack of clarity in Joplin about the separation of Bright Futures Joplin funds from other dollars collected through tax revenues and other state and federal funding sources to the district. Nearly a year ago, the conversation began to look at the possibility of separating BF Joplin funds from Joplin Schools to create a more clear distinction.
At the Joplin Schools Board of Education meeting held in October, the Bright Futures Joplin Advisory board submitted a request to have the Bright Futures Joplin designated funds moved out of the district and into the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. You can view the request submitted by the BFJ Advisory Board Chairman here.
At that same BOE meeting, Joplin Schools CFO Paul Barr presented on the current financial position of Bright Futures Joplin and how the funds have been managed over the past five years.
See the presentation in full here:
Mr. Barr made a couple of important points in his presentation:
1. BF Joplin funds have always been kept separate from taxpayer revenues in a designated activity account.
2. These funds are managed by the Joplin Schools finance department and are subject to all Joplin Schools’ policies and procedures including personnel, financial, purchasing, etc. and audits.
So why the possible changes? There are two important reasons the Advisory Board made this request to move the funds:
1. Increased clarity and transparency – while the BF activity account is open to the public via the Sunshine Law, there is not regular reporting out to the community of the nature of our work with a breakdown of income/expenses (as most non-profits typically report). Moving funds to the Foundation will allow us to report this information on an annual basis through the traditional 990 report. Having BF funds moved to the foundation will also create a distinct separation from BF dollars and taxpayer revenues, which will give donors greater levels of confidence.
2. Investment opportunities – To reach the level of financial security that would create long-term sustainability, we must be able to move funds to a location where they can be invested and earn a return. We would like to be able to accept endowments and other investment gifts (stocks, annuities, etc.) that would create a strong base of long-term financial viability for many years to come. Moving to the foundation gives us that opportunity.
So, what’s next?
The District lawyer, Mr. Norman Rouse, is investigating state statutes and looking at possible options in partnership with the district’s auditing accountant, Mr. Chris Churchwell. There is a committee that has been formed to work through the development of a Memorandum of Understanding that would help clarify roles and responsibilities between Joplin Schools and the Bright Futures Joplin Advisory Board and staff, as well as the direction of the monies. These teams will be bringing back recommendations to the Board of Education, hopefully by the November meeting.
We are incredibly appreciative of the amazing five years of support we’ve experienced in Joplin and look forward to many more years of successful partnership for the benefit of our kids!
Melissa Winston, MSMFT, PLMFT
Bright Futures Joplin Coordinator