When people learn I am the controller at Trinity School, they often exclaim, “Oh I could never do that! You do all that math and stuff!” Sometimes this is followed by a deep sigh of relief or an eye roll. Even my spouse jumped up and down like Rumplestiltskin and shouted, “I hate numbers,” when I suggested he balance the checkbook.

Accounting is not really about “higher math.” I only find myself trying to solve an equation when guessing how many jelly beans are in the jar. Fortunately, you turn in receipts; and we do not have to guess what you spent on supplies groucho_marx_69239-1600x1200or out of town travel.

One of my accounting professors gave us a very simple definition: “Accounting is providing useful information to decision makers.” After a 2 hour class discussion on the sentence, I wondered if anything so “simple” could be so variable at the same time.

In simple terms, the business office keeps track of all the money that we expect to come in and go out.  We compare it to a budget which is what we anticipate will happen during the year. You may be thinking, “What do you mean expect? Don’t you know?” Actually, we do not know exactly what the numbers will be until we receive the money or write the check.

We base this year’s budget on actual numbers from the prior year and incorporate changes we expect to occur in the year. One of the most important jobs we perform is to review our actual numbers with our budgeted numbers and explain any significant variations. For example, a large increase in water usage may indicate a leak somewhere.

The business office furnishes reports in various formats to the decision makers. What makes the reports useful is that they are timely, comparable and the applicable information is presented in a way the decision maker can use it. As teachers, you compare a student’s current year test score with a prior year as well as with his peers. You also compare the scores at Trinity with national results. We are both looking for trends. We both do analysis to determine adjustments if needed to reach optimum results.

Learner, Thinker, Writer:  Wynn Hickam serves the Trinity School community as Controller.

7 thoughts on “Accounting

  1. Wynn, I appreciate the comparison of your work to teachers’ work. I don’t think I would have thought of that. I also am glad that people like you love your work. As a result, Trinity can be the great place it is!

  2. Wynn, I loved your article! Thank you for sharing both your passion for your work and your delightful humor with us !

  3. Wynn, thanks for helping us understand a bit more of what goes on at your end of the hallway. : )

  4. Brian Balocki

    Loved your post Wynn! Accountants rock!

  5. Carrie Lanier

    Great post!

  6. Thank you for your informative post! I loved your comparison to what we do with students. Come down to the art room if you ever need a break from numbers and want to express yourself!

  7. Wynn,
    Thanks so much for giving us a glimpse into the world of accounting!

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