New to K‑12 Finance Leadership? Fast-Start Tips for Success

Use these tips to get some quick wins in your first 90 days and set yourself up for success in a Finance Leadership role in K‑12.

New K‑12 CFO introducing himself

You’ve started your new role in K‑12 Finance Leadership—congratulations! Even if you have been in the finance industry your entire career, the K‑12 industry has unique needs that center around every district’s overall goal—student success. Traditionally, the K‑12 Chief Financial Officer (CFO) was seen as a back-office role focused on spreadsheets and budgets. Today, however, the role has expanded to include high level oversight and strategic planning for a district’s future financial goals. 

Whether you are brand-new to this role, or simply new to the K‑12 industry, your first few months in your role are crucial to setting the tone and laying a strong foundation for success. In your first 90 days, it is important to invest in building relationships, evaluate existing processes, and create a plan to move your district forward.

New K‑12 Finance Leadership Fast-Start Tips to Success

Invest in Relationships

Establishing relationships is crucial for any new organizational leader. For a K‑12 CFO, this includes building trust within the internal team, as well as with external stakeholders like school administrators, parents, and other community members. Every function of a school district is dependent upon financial funding and how those funds are allocated. One of the primary functions of the role is to ensure that all stakeholders understand the overall goals of the district so that money is spent in the right places, and on the right things. 

Investing time in establishing a relationship with your team and stakeholders will help you earn their trust and allow you to work together towards achieving positive student outcomes. Make a plan to meet both with your team and your community early on and prioritize communicating frequently.

Evaluate Existing Processes

Before you can chart a path forward, you must first gain an understanding of where you are. How do you access your data, and is it reliable? What is the process for reporting and who is responsible for it? These are just a couple of the questions you should be looking to answer early on. Specifically, you should: 

  • Find out what tools the finance team uses
  • Identify any highly manual processes
  • Assess reporting structures
  • Understand gaps in efficiency 

This list is not exhaustive, but it is a great place to start. Understanding existing processes will also assist you in building relationships with your team. You will be demonstrating your commitment to truly understanding what your district’s needs are so that you can begin to address them. 

Create a Plan to Move Forward

With relationships established and an understanding of current processes achieved, it is now time to make a plan to move your district towards its overall goals. It is essential to communicate to your team and external stakeholders any issues that you have uncovered and what specific steps you will take to address them. Additionally, you must explain how you will measure your progress and establish a pattern to update your team and community. 

Get Specific Tips to Fast-Track Success with the New K‑12 CFO Guide

There is much to do in your first few months as a new K‑12 CFO. In fact, the list may seem daunting. While you have an understanding of the importance of building relationships, understanding current processes and creating a plan for the future, you may need additional help with how, specifically, to accomplish those tasks. Our team of experts at LINQ put together a New K‑12 CFO Guide that you can download to help you get started. By following the tips included in the guide, you’ll be able to get started on the right track to success. 

CFO Financial Leadership Guide