ASG Investigation Week: ASG’s Lack of Budget and Spending Transparency Explained
ASG’s budget has remained a mystery to much of Irvington’s student body and the Irvington Voice’s investigation into their budget revealed their financial plans, expenditure, and club money regulations.
February 1, 2021
As many events and fundraisers that ASG normally hosts during a normal school year have been canceled or delayed, ASG’s budget and spending for the year have changed accordingly. Generally, the budget reports are available to the student body on the ihsvikings.org website. However, they contain vague descriptions for items purchased, making it difficult for a student to decipher how ASG is spending money.
In mid-December, the Irvington Voice contacted ASG treasurer Zayaan Khan (11) requesting an updated budget.
“This year, we actually do not have a budget,” Khan said. “Due to COVID, ASG is cutting expenses on basically everything so our spending philosophy this year is to not spend any money at all except in the very few cases when absolutely necessary.”
However, in our interview with ASG advisor Mr. Willer, he was able to provide the current ASG budget, which contradicted Khan’s claim.
According to Mr. Willer, the original receipts for all ASG purchases are stored in Ms. Menke’s office, the accounting clerk for Irvington High School. The reports published online label purchased materials as “ASG supplies” because there are often too many items approved for purchase at once. It would be difficult to list out all of them, but Mr. Willer says that the ASG treasurer would know what exactly was purchased.
“[The original receipts] are audited by the district and by the state every single year,” explained Willer. “For anything referenced on our budget, there is a physical receipt, a physical expenditure, a copy of the actual check, where the check was sent to, all grouped in order from August all the way to June [annually].”
According to Khan, the umbrella term “ASG supplies” is used to describe miscellaneous items purchased by ASG.
“[ASG supplies refers to] school supplies, or poster paper that we use in the student union for posters,” Khan stated. “Also the student body is welcome to use that for their own projects. A lot of times we need paint and paint brushes, or various things like that which fall under ASG supplies.”
Although the reasoning provided by Mr. Willer and Khan explains the lack of clarity in the budget, much of the student body is unaware of how ASG spends its money. The Irvington Voice’s ASG evaluation survey found that 25.4% (110 students) of the 433 sampled students in the survey disagreed with the statement “I believe that ASG has been transparent in their use of student body money” while only 15.5% (67 students) agreed according to the survey. The remaining participants in the survey felt neutral about ASG’s budget transparency.
“I have no idea what the budget is so I would say there is not as much transparency as there could be,” stated an anonymous senior.
Additionally, a California state law requires clubs to spend at least 20% of their revenue in a year and in some cases, if this money is not spent, ASG has the authority to take the money. Mr. Willer, however, believes this law is often misinterpreted.
“I get a report of all the clubs who have money over 20% and I email the president and advisors and I say, ‘You have an excess of money in your account. How do you plan on spending it?’,” explained Mr. Willer. “We document and we record that plan on a spreadsheet, and [the club] gets to keep the money because there’s a plan for it and it rolls over the next year. We have actually never taken money from an active club on campus.”
Mr. Willer did state that ASG has seized money from clubs that have been inactive for over 72 months and repurposed the money in their account to be used for campus beautification, water-bottle refilling stations and other school-wide projects that improve the campus for all students.
ASG’s budget may still remain a mystery to a large portion of the student body but students who are curious to learn more about ASG’s spending can view the reports published on the ihsvikings.org website or contact an ASG representative for more information.