An Introduction to an Organization

For more than 20 years I have been working in the field of association management in the Washington, DC, area. My early training as a classroom teacher led me to education associations, many of which reside in this area. So many, in fact, that association professionals often use acronyms to refer to sister organizations. The list includes AASA, American Association of School Administrators; NASSP, National Association of Secondary School Principals; NSBA, National School Boards Association; NAESP, National Association of Elementary School Principals; and NSPRA, National School Public Relations Association.

Most administrators have had to weed through the list of acronyms for education associations, and in the process, most have come across ASBO, the Association of School Business Officials International. This column will introduce administrators to the association's missions and goals. In future columns, ASBO board members will be addressing current issues in school business management. I believe that the perspective of the school business official will complement AS&U's continuing coverage of school business management topics.

The Association of School Business Officials International is a professional association that provides programs and services to promote the highest standards of school business management practices, professional growth and the effective use of educational resources.

ASBO was founded in 1910 and represents approximately 6,000 members. Another 30,000 members are represented by 57 affiliate ASBO chapters in the United States and Canada. Primarily, members are chief financial officers, serving as the custodians of the public funds entrusted to school systems. They also are responsible for school maintenance, operations, facilities, transportation, food service and security. ASBO members work for public and private elementary and secondary school districts, as well as for junior and community colleges. They are noninstructional employees working at the local, state and national levels of school business management.

ASBO International offers members professional growth and development programs, administers a scholarship fund to help members continue professional training, participates with other public-interest groups in pursuing common goals, honors outstanding members annually in two special awards programs, and recognizes school systems with outstanding comprehensive annual financial reports.

Currently ASBO headquarters are in Reston, Va. ASBO's proximity to the nation's capital facilitates addressing issues such as the E-rate, the Public School Modernization Act of 1998, and IRS requirements for tax-sheltered annuities. Our location also allows us to forge bonds between the membership and the other non-profit and government organizations that serve schools. Through these partnerships and rallying around shared missions, we can accomplish great things for students.

One of ASBO's primary professional development services is its annual meeting. This year's meeting will focus on sharing solutions and sharing success. Volunteer committees and staff have designed a program to expand participants' knowledge base and grow careers. More than 100 sessions are planned covering accounting and budgeting; business operations including purchasing, risk management, transportation, food and nutrition; legal aspects and legislative; management and human resources; school finance; school operations; and technology. In addition, more than 200 of the top companies serving K-12 school districts will offer solutions to the challenges of operating effective schools. There also is an architectural exhibition showcasing the designs of leading architects for new school facilities in the United States and Canada.

When I began my career in education, school business officials did not have to address many of the issues covered in this year's annual meeting sessions. The Internet was just a gleam in the Defense Department's eye. School business administrators did not have to sort out terms such as wide area network, bandwidth and teleconferencing, much less figure out how to stretch taxpayer dollars to pay for them. They had to deal with occasional fist fights at high school football games, but they did not have to give national press conferences on how they were addressing the latest shooting outside the local elementary school. They also did not face as daunting a task as they now do of integrating non-native speakers and special-needs students into the education system, while still budgeting for the school breakfast and lunch programs that many children depend on to get through the day.

ASBO International is committed to turning today's challenges into opportunities. Our members have found solutions for securing schools against violence, coping with mandates to reduce class size, and funding technology initiatives, to name only a few.

The school business official's role as custodian of a diverse education system is a difficult one. ASBO International is committed to giving school business officials the tools and knowledge they need to fill this critical role and deliver the best possible education system to our youth.

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