Self-Improvement Found in a Land Far Away, but still Close to My Heart

In the past month I had the opportunity to take some time away from the office and travel abroad.  It was arguably the best trip I have had in my life; not only due to the company, but because of the way it pushed me internally.

If I backtrack nearly fifteen years ago, I began travelling abroad as part of work as I developed networks and connections in the emerging economies of Eastern Europe in support of my job with the Center for International Business Education and Research.  They were funded by the US Department of Education.

My recent trip to Italy provided me with a wide range of lessons.  I learned interpersonal skills and business practices.  I also learned passive and active listening skills alike.   It was an opportunity to grow internally and continue to remind myself of some tenants, beliefs and ideals which I want to continue to continue to take back to my day-to-day experiences.

Having never stepped foot on Italian soil, the trip was filled with tours and experiences, all thoroughly enjoyable.  Each experience proved memorable and yet each was vastly different.  Those activities I ranked highest had noticeable responsiveness with the individuals served.

I was in amazement at one hotel, where within an hour of being there it seemed the staff in different areas knew who I was.  I was able to connect and talk with many despite a language barrier which I take some blame for; I didn’t take my Italian seriously enough before the trip.

Whether these individuals realized it or not, I found out just how I react when put in an unfamiliar and non-routine experience.  I not only enjoyed the situation more, I became more introspective and reflective.

Asking what the difference was between two nearly similar products would yield me a comment that shed insight into the specific expectations and habits integrated into the cultures of the countries of origin themselves.

From this venture there are truly numerous reflections which I have planned to utilize in the next few posts.  This includes the ways my experience transferred into growth as a school business manager, and how I will continue to develop strong relationships with people in my school district and in the business and educational communities which schools support.


Keeping up with the IRS

By: Matthew James Malinowski, Business Manager Susquehanna Township School District 3550 Elmerton Ave Harrisburg, PA 17109 Ph; 717-657-5100 email:

Written under request of the Human Resources Committee.

Perhaps the business functions most often associated with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the payment of payroll taxes accrued and withheld and the filing of year end documents such as 1099s and W-2s. Additionally, however, the IRS has increased oversight of an often forgotten area of taxes in schools – taxable fringe benefits.

Maybe your initial response to taxable fringe benefits is “What?” Perchance you may think “we’re small, this wouldn’t apply to us.” You could be at the other end of the spectrum and know exactly what I am talking about all too well as the result of an audit. At the conclusion of an audit, recommendations are issued relative to the handling or oversight of taxable fringe benefits.

Definition of Taxable Fringe Benefits
The IRS publication 15-B (Rev, January 2007) defines a taxable fringe benefit as follows: “a form of pay for the performance of services.” An example would be if you provide an employee with a cell phone and due to the high number of minutes and lack of overages within the plan you allow the employee to make personal calls without charging the employee or requiring the employee to reimburse the district. (If this situation echoes a procedure your district does, then you have taxable fringe benefits to address.)

If an employee or contractor within your school district is receiving a taxable fringe benefit, such benefit must be included in the recipients pay unless the employee reimburses the district for the cost of the benefit or the law would exclude the benefit from being taxed. The most common reporting document for a taxable fringe benefit is Form W-2.

Identification of Taxable Fringe Benefits
The IRS publication 15-B details out a table of rules for various types of fringe benefits.

The most common reason for a taxable fringe benefit not needing to be reported is if the benefit was determined to be “de minimius” or provide minimal benefits. For example, if an employee occasionally provides meals for the employee such as a late night dinner when the employee works overtime, this is not considered a taxable fringe benefit. Additionally, the provision of parking, a transit pass, or a commuter car pool vehicle are excluded from being taxed under certain circumstances.

The more commonly reported taxable fringe benefits include personal usage of cellular phones and devices, personal use of a employer provided vehicles (the employee uses the vehicle to drive to and from home for example), and group-term life insurance coverage.

How to address Taxable Fringe Benefits?

Considering the frequency with which taxable benefits are provided to employees business officials need to ensure that the appropriate policies and procedures are in place to ensure that fringe benefits are tracked, monitored, and reported appropriately. A first recommendation would be to examine your board policy manual for any existing policies addressing any taxable benefits. For example, is there a policy on the issuance of cell phones or employer provided vehicles? There may already be a mechanism for reporting and reimbursing for personal use. In addition to the existing procedure, there needs to be a second means to track non reported use and then report it on the appropriate forms.

After an examination of your current policy manual it may seem advantageous to also add a policy that directly addresses taxable fringe benefits and the manner in which your district will regulate them. A policy could potentially include:
• Definition of Taxable Fringe Benefits and other related terms
• An identified individual to implement and report taxable fringe benefits
• Guidelines disclosing taxes fringe benefits are subject to, the verification process, and a process to record employee reimbursement.

In the development of a policy schools should review current board policies and school codes in addition to the Internal Revenue Service Regulations.

Employee Concerns

Implementing IRS regulations will more likely than not cause some concern on the part of your employees. Personnel may think that there is close scrutiny to prevent fraud or for other reasons. Clear communication of the policy and what the purpose is and is not will aid in the dissolution of rumors.


Internal Revenue Service. “Employer’s Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits”. Publication 15-B January 2007.

Internal Revenue Service. “Taxable Fringe Benefit Guide.” January 2006.

How accurate is your personnel budgeting process?

As the summer concludes and a new school year begins, it will soon (if not already) be time to review your personnel budget both for the current and next school year.  As school expenditures are predominantly salary and benefit costs, careful budgeting paired with ongoing accurate projections can ensure funds are available, yet any “savings” can be directed toward another purpose to support programmatic initiatives.  In the event salaries and benefits are higher than expected, early identification of this fact can lead to solutions to ensure your year-end budget is balanced.

matthew-malinowski-school-personnel-budgetingA good starting point is to review your current year projections against the budget.  Assuming there was a detailed budget prepared which included the projected salaries and benefits for each position by functional area, there will naturally be a variance.  For example, projected retirements and new hire salaries could have changed.  Additionally, calculations for horizontal movement should be factored into the projected budget.  Additionally, benefit elections could alter healthcare costs.  Finally, a total of all projected salaries should be calculated as to the employer contribution for retirement and social security.  This final step is important as these expenditures impact both the expenditure and the revenue received as a reimbursement of the expenditure outlay by the state of Pennsylvania.  Regardless of what the projections forecast as favorable or unfavorable, the current year projection provides a baseline for the next fiscal year.

Looking at next year’s budget, you can utilize trends in the current year as a guide.  For example, is your workforce now younger in age and therefore may be working on additional coursework for horizontal movement?  Understanding the current year budget enables the future year budget to be built with accurate projections.  Many schools utilize a personnel budgeting system which often begins with position control.  The value of position control is you can establish a number of positions and then ensure you are not adding more positions than were budgeted.

Once position control or the number of positions is in place, there can be budgets developed for the staff which hold the position.  These budgets should reflect the projected salary increases and benefits at the point in time that the budget is developed.  While impossible to have 100% accuracy, ongoing updates to this information as staff attrition and benefit changes take place, can ensure the budget accurately represents the current costs.  These budgets become the base line for salary and benefit projections for the 2015-16 budget.

In a perfect world the process outlined above would provide an accurate representation of a personnel budget, however, personnel costs can be fluid.  May district’s need to account for a variety of unknown circumstances in their personnel budget to include daily absences, long-term leaves of absence, sabbatical, professional development leaves and in servicing, resignations and changes in enrollment to name a few.  Many of these additional costs can vary from year to year.  Additionally, based upon locally negotiated agreements, contract drivers of certain costs vary from district to district and across the state.  There is not a one size fits all solution other than to monitor and put appropriate measures in place such as position control and other policies to contain you personnel and benefit costs.  If you are looking for cost reduction ideas, check out the PASBO electronic resource center which has information on successful cost savings initiatives and personnel policies and procedures.

What Will 2014-2015 Bring?

With local budgets passed, warm weather here for a few months and preparations for the start of a new school year it seems like we are already in the throes of the 2014-2015 fiscal year.  The following areas related to accounting and financial reporting will require attention and implementation during the 2014-2015 year.

GASB 68 – Accounting and Financial Reporting for Pensions

School districts will report for the first time their portion of the defined benefit unfunded pension obligation.  What this means is that in 2015, PSERS will calculate each school district’s portion of the Commonwealth’s benefit obligation based on an actuarial standard.  While this liability will not be reported on fund level statements, it is unclear how it will be viewed by bond rating agencies as to the impact on Government Wide Financial Statements.

Interscholastic Athletics Disclosure Reporting

Reporting on interscholastic athletics opportunities for male and female athletes due on October 15, 2014 will now include all non-school funds given to athletic teams (booster club, gifts, alumni contributions and purchases).  Remember, to include these non-school funds that supported these programs during the 2013-14 school year.

Updated Chart of Accounts

The Office of Comptroller Operations annually publishes an updated chart of accounts on their website at:

Federal Audit Clearing House Submissions

Effective with audit submissions for audit year 2014, all pdfs of audit reports to the Federal Audit Clearing House must be unlocked, searchable and unencrypted to allow copying and pasting.    The inclusion of these requirements enables federal agencies to analyze findings electronically.

2 CFR Part 200 Uniform Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards

Updates for Federal Single Audit requirements strives to reduce duplicative and conflicting guidance, focus on performance rather than compliance with accountability, efficient use of information technology with shared services, provide for consistent and transparent treatment of costs, strengthen oversight and targeting audits on waste fraud and abuse.  The compliance supplement will be released in April 2015 and apply to the 2015-16 fiscal year.

More to come?

With the passage of the final state budget other legislative activity, there may be more changes or additions to reporting during the 2014-15 school year.  PASBO strives to keep members posted on changes through updates via email and webcast and information on the website to include the electronic resource center.

Matthew Malinowski is the Director of Business Affairs at Cheltenham School District and Chair of the PASBO Accounting Committee.


School Operations Academy comes to State College, PA in July

PennState1-300x3001.gifMatthew Malinowski has been offered a new job at the Upper Moreland School District. As part of his ongoing professional development, Malinowski will both participate in and speak at a two-day School Operations Academy at the Penn State Conference Center Hotel in State College, PA. The conference will take place over July 24th and 25th and is open to school business officials from across Pennsylvania, whether they just started a new job, recently took on more responsibilities, or just want to learn more to hopefully advance their career.

Though he has many years in the business, Malinowski always works to increase his knowledge and share the information he has learned with others in the field, and encourages others to do the same. During the conference, he will discuss trends in school purchasing, budget development, and accounting functions. As Director of Business Affairs for the Cheltenham School District, Malinowski developed these areas of expertise and gained knowledge through firsthand experience. He will use this experience to share best practices, efficiencies and sound accounting measures.

The conference will kick off as attendees will hear a combination of both track-specific and common-interest sessions. These sessions provide an overview of school business operations. Then they will attend general sessions that will cover all areas of school business management, and finally finish off with breakout sessions, which provide specific technical information on business, facilities, food service, and transportation.

If you’re looking to get up to speed on your new job responsibilities, this type of conference is a great way to obtain valuable information in a timely and cost effective manner. Learn proven techniques, get ideas for efficiency and cost reduction, discuss challenges and solutions with peers, and network with contacts from throughout the state.

Why Incorporate Weightlifting Into Your Workout Routine?

When it comes to losing weight, running or doing other forms of cardio consistently will not be enough to ensure that you are able to shed those pounds in the long run. Once your body gets into the groove of a cardio workout that you do on a regular basis, your body will also reach its peak and it will be harder to burn calories.

As someone who runs a lot and has been working out for years, I want you to know that unless you incorporate weight training into your workout routine, you may be unable to attain the fitness physique you desire.

The fact of the matter is, the more you do one kind of workout, the easier it will be to do it and you won’t sweat and burn as many calories as you did when you first started.

Therefore, for all of you runners and cardio people out there who are looking to incorporate some weightlifting into their workout regimen, here are two reasons why it is important:

  1. You will have better workout overall – Incorporating weight training will be able to help you run longer and faster. Increasing your strength will also mean you have the potential to heighten your endurance levels for when it comes time to completing a longer run.
  2. Having muscle means you burn more calories – If you add more lean muscle mass to your body, you will acquire a faster metabolism. Muscle also burns more calories in order to be maintained so when your body is at rest, you will be burning more calories!
  3. You will look leaner – While doing cardio will make you shed some pounds at first, building lean muscle mass will make you look slimmer because muscle takes up less space on your body then fat!

If you are interested in hearing more about what I, Matthew J. Malinowski have to say about working out, just ask! After all, I know a thing or two about fitness after years of running and weightlifting!

Theater Alive and Well in Philly this Summer

Like many theater lovers in the Philadelphia area, Matthew J. Malinowski, former business director for Susquehanna Township school district, and current Director of Business Affairs at The School District of Cheltenham Township enjoys the numerous theater options Philly has to offer all year long. In summer 2014, Philly theater fans are in luck with several big shows coming to town.

A hugely popular show that had its initial run in New York City, The Book of Mormon will come to Forrest Theatre on Walnut Street in Philly on July 29. Ticket prices range from $67-$132, and tickets are now available for pre-order online. Written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Avenue Q writer Robert Lopez, the musical offers a satirical take on the tradition of Mormon mission trips. Sent to Uganda to convert the natives, the ambitious Elder Price and the bumbling Elder Cunningham find that the teachings of their church didn’t quite prepare them for everything the world has to offer.

The Walnut Street Theatre is completing a successful run of the classic 1967 musical How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying. The show began on May 21 and will have its final performance on July 13. Tickets are still available for the next month of shows, with prices ranging from $10-$95. J. Pierrepont Finch climbs the corporate ladder with the help of a handbook titled “How to Succeed in Business.” Chronicling his rise from window washer to high-powered executive, the show pokes fun at the nature of the business world in the 1960s. Audiences will enjoy timeless standards including “I Believe in You,” “Been a Long Day,” and “Rosemary.”

Matthew J. Malinowski hopes to help theater fans enjoy all Philadelphia has to offer this summer. More information about Philly theater is available at

Two Beginner Running Tips from Matthew J Malinowski

Two Beginner Running Tips

Summer is almost here, and soon many people will be working out and running more often to get their beach body back.  As an avid runner, I know that many people are curious as to how I am able to run an average of five to six miles every day.  Well, the first thing you need to realize is that I didn’t just start running five to six miles one day; I had to work myself up to that amount.

Therefore, one of the things I had to do to get to where I am at is by sticking with my running and workout plan.  Once you start running, one of the ways that you will be able to maintain and further how much you run is by doing it on a regular basis.  If you are running for a week and then take a week off, there is a strong chance that you will not be able to run like you did when you ended your first week.  If you don’t get yourself into a routine, the harder it will be for you to run and workout the way you want to.

Another thing I suggest a part from sticking with your plan, is finding some way to make running fun.  There are many people out there that stop running or full out refuse to because it is “boring.”  Make it fun by running with a friend or listening to some music.  If you run on a treadmill and are able to get a stand high enough to place your laptop or computer screen in front of you, watch a movie, or catch up one of your favorite TV shows instead of wasting an hour doing it on the couch.  Doing things such as this will make running more tolerable each week—especially if you find it intolerable but still want to keep doing it!

The fact of the matter is, any person who is just getting started with running, I, Matthew J Malinowski, highly suggest you stick to it in order to achieve the goals you set for yourself!

Taking just one week off may mean that you will never run again or at least not for a while!

Matthew J Malinowski celebrates restaurateur and inspiration, Steven Starr.

Cooking is a passion for Matthew J Malinowski, Business Director of the Cheltenham Township school district. Regardless of whether he’s in Philadelphia, Boston, Washington DC, or Chicago, he makes sure to work in some cooking and restaurant visits. One of his favorite restaurants in Philadelphia is Matyson. Other favorites include Stephen Starr’s long line of restaurants in Philadelphia, New York, Atlantic City, Washington DC, and two locations in Florida. Knowledge of fine cuisine is a trademark for Malinowski.

Lovers of food everywhere will share Malinowski’s appreciation for Starr’s numerous locations. In most cases Malinowski is an American cuisine guy, but as a businessman and food enthusiast applauds Starr’s ability to corner the market of the food of so many different cultures including Japanese, Italian, French, and Mexican.

Any night of the week, one will find Starr’s restaurants packed to the brim with tourists and locals alike clamoring to try his world renowned food. Run in to find a spot at Frankford Hall, a German style beer hall and beer garden in Fishtown, or enjoy authentic Mexican dishes at El Rey or El Vez.

Stephen Starr is an inspiration to Malinowski, who loves cooking for himself as well as for family and friends. Taking his cue from online recipes from Starr and other great chefs, Malinowski always works to improve on his skills and fit this hobby into his busy professional life. Offering up home cooked meals brings him great joy. Leaders in the food industry and throughout the business world can admire the practices of Star, Matthew Malinowski feels. Enjoy Starr’s restaurants located throughout the east coast.

Matthew J Malinowski The Mystery in School Finances

Matthew J Malinowski’s Book is Now on Pre Order at Amazon

Matthew J Malinowski’s book is now on pre order

The newest book from Matthew J Malinowski is now available for pre-order from

The book, titled, “The Mystery in School Finances: Discovering Answers in Community-Based Budgeting” is set for release on June 2, 2014, but you can pre-order from now.

In his book, Matthew Malinowski delves into the budget process, school finances and the roles in in the budget process. He points out correlation of a superindendent to a CEO of a business while making it equal parts informative and entertaining.  You will gain insights into the budget processes that continually drive successful school budget decisions.

The Mystery in School Finances is available in both Hardcover and Paperback June 2.

From are critical roles in the budget process for the Superintendent, Finance Officer, and internal and external stakeholders. The superintendent functions similar to a Chief Executive Officer; they are the main go-between for the board of directors and the district. Providing a vision for the school district as a whole is critical, as well as working to ensure community engagement provides a comprehensive 360-degree perspective – which in turn drives the budget process to ensure it reflects the community served.

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