Wright State University accountancy master’s students have been digging up important data for Huber Heights schools this year. Teams of three to four students worked with Ann Bernardo, the treasurer for the Huber Heights school district and a Wright State alumna, to find out what the schools are doing right and what needs to be adjusted.
“We were excited to have those kids here, because it was a great opportunity for us to look at some of our programs,” said Bernardo.
One team worked on an analysis of recent elections, breaking down the geographical distribution of votes for and against different kinds of levies. Another team is researching the effectiveness of sports participation fees, trying to discover if the fees actually pay for the coaches.
Team three tackled the school’s dining program, making sure that the food offered in the cafeteria was up to federal standards. The fourth team made sure that teachers in the school district were keeping up with the requirements for continuing education.
They helped save the schools some money and honed their auditing skills at the same time.
“We saw this kind of being a win-win,” said James Greenspan, chair of accountancy at Wright State. “What we’re able to do is provide this free service to them, and it allows them, in a period where they’re undergoing a lot of scrutiny about cutting down costs, to get these services at no charge.”
At the end of the project, students gave a presentation on their findings.
“They’re supposed to give us some recommendation as far as what they see is lacking or may need improvement in our district,” said Bernardo. “They may come up with some interesting ideas for us to implement.”
The collaboration doesn’t just help the participating school system, either. The students get a lot out of it too.
“It’s going to give them real-world experience, as far as asking the questions, interacting with people outside the classroom,” said Bernardo. The students were required to fit their schedule to that of their clients, to present accurate information and to act, in short, like professional accountants.
It’s good preparation for what’s to come after graduation into a tough job market, and Bernardo certainly appreciated the students’ hard work.
“Because we’re both public education systems,” she says, “it’s nice than we can help each other out.”
Bernardo said the program worked out so well, she hopes that Wright State will send her more students next year. Greenspan said he’s not sure just yet whether Wright State will work with Huber Heights again, but that the likelihood is good for this doubly beneficial partnership to continue.