Are federal program procedure manuals essential? As much as I hate to say it, the answer is yes. The procedure manual for federal programs is addressed at conferences and during every monitoring visit. The next question is, what does the procedure manual include? The manual should consist of the procedures undertaken by the federal programs office to carry out the fiscal and programmatic aspects of the job. So how does one start with creating a federal programs procedure manual? I have two suggestions that can overlap each other. First, google LEA federal program procedure manuals. There are thousands of hits on the search engine. It helps if you can find one from your state; choose a few manuals and compare them. There will be many common topics. Next, take your state’s monitoring instrument and see what procedures need to be in place for monitoring.
Using these two tools, begin to draft your procedure manual. Write one procedure manual that will address all the Title programs and the ESSER programs. Be sure to differentiate between the allowability of Title and ESSER programs in the manual. Create headings for the monitoring instrument indicators and see if the sample procedure manuals address these topics. If they do, revise the procedures to ensure they are the ones your district follows. If the indicator is not included, create a new heading and write the steps that are followed to carry out the implementation of the action. Be sure to talk to your Business Manager and anyone else involved in the topic to ensure that the written steps are those taking place in your district. It is crucial that you only include procedures for which you can provide documentation or evidence of the process being followed. Many monitoring findings result from districts not having documentation or proof they follow the manual’s procedures. Only include necessary information. Once you have drafted the procedure manual, ask someone else to read it to see if the steps make sense. Have the Business Manager review the manual, especially the fiscal parts.
An additional suggestion, is to work with other Federal Program Directors in the state and ask to share procedure manuals. Follow the steps noted above as you review these other LEA manuals. I have found that most Federal Program Directors are very happy to share with each other.
It is not recommended that your procedure manual be board approved since your Federal Programs Procedure Manual may need to be revised in the event of any changes in procedures. If you have an existing procedure manual, review the manual to ensure the processes are accurate and substantiated.
A well-written Federal Programs Procedure Manual can be your lifeline in the event someone new has to step into a positon addressed by the manual, a problem arises as to how a process was followed, and during monitoring. The manual is a risk-management tool.
Go for it! You can do it!