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Financial Accounting for Local and State School Systems: 2009 Edition
NCES 2009-325
June 2009

Chapter 6: Account Classification Descriptions — Program

A program is a plan of activities and procedures designed to accomplish a predetermined objective or set of objectives. Nine broad program areas are identified in this guide that are intended to capture similar instructional services delivered to public (including charter) schools: regular education, special education, vocational education, other instructional (prekindergarten4 through grade 12), nonpublic school, adult/continuing education, community/junior college education, community services, and cocurricular/extracurricular activities. The program classification provides the school district with a framework to classify instructional and other expenditures by program to determine cost. For purposes of designating program codes for noninstructional expenditures, it may be necessary to create a designation for those costs that cannot be attributed to a specific program. Many state departments of education use a function/object matrix only, for reporting financial information from the school district to the state. Under this system, the function is subclassified to gather instructional program information. This results in only direct instructional costs being classified to the instruction function. Those support costs, which provide support to specific instructional programs, are classified as a general support function. Each classification is presented by a code number followed by a description.

100Regular Elementary/Secondary Education Programs. Activities that provide students in prekindergarten through grade 12 with learning experiences to prepare them for further education or training and for responsibilities as citizens, family members, and workers. Regular programs should be distinguished from special education programs that focus on adapting curriculum or instruction to accommodate a specific disability; from vocational/technical programs that focus on career skills; and from alternative education programs that focus on the educational needs of students at risk of failing or dropping out of school because of academic, behavioral, or situational factors.
200Special Programs. Special programs include activities for elementary and secondary students (prekindergarten through grade 12) that have special needs. These services are related to mental retardation, orthopedic impairment, emotional disturbance, developmental delay, specific learning disabilities, multiple disabilities, hearing impairment, other health impairments, visual impairments including blindness, autism, deaf-blindness, traumatic brain injury, and speech or language impairments.
300Vocational and Technical Programs. Activities delivered through traditional comprehensive and vocational-technical high schools or recognized charter schools that prepare students to meet challenging academic standards as well as industry skill standards while preparing them for broad-based careers and further education beyond high school. Vocational and technical programs may include: agriculture and natural resources, architecture and construction, arts and communication technology, business and administration, education and training, finance, public administration, health science, hospitality and tourism, human services, information technology, law and public safety, manufacturing, retail/wholesale sales and service, scientific research and engineering, and transportation.
400Other Instructional Programs—Elementary/Secondary. Activities that provide students in prekindergarten through grade 12 with learning experiences not included in program codes 100–300 or 500–900. Examples of such programs follow:

  • Bilingual—English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). Activities for students from homes where English is not the primary language spoken.
  • Alternative (and At Risk) Education Programs. Activities for students assigned to alternative campuses, centers, or classrooms designed to improve behavior and/or provide an enhanced learning experience. Typically, alternative education programs are designed to meet the needs of students that cannot be addressed in a traditional classroom setting.
  • Gifted and Talented. Activities for students with gifted and talented abilities, which consist of behaviors that reflect an interaction among three basic clusters of human traits: above-average general and/or specific abilities, high levels of task commitment, and high levels of creativity. Individuals capable of developing gifted behavior are those possessing or capable of developing this composite set of traits and applying them to any potentially valuable area of human performance. Persons who manifest or are capable of developing an interaction among the three clusters require a wide variety of educational opportunities and services that are not ordinarily provided through regular instructional programs (Renzulli and Reis 1997).
500Nonpublic School Programs. Activities for students attending a school established by an agency other than the state, a subdivision of the state, or the federal government, which usually is supported primarily by other than public funds. The services consist of such activities as those involved in providing instructional services, attendance and social work services, health services, and transportation services for nonpublic school students.
600Adult/Continuing Education Programs. Activities that develop knowledge and skills to meet immediate and long-range educational objectives of adults who, having completed or interrupted formal schooling, have accepted adult roles and responsibilities. Programs include activities to foster the development of fundamental tools of learning; prepare students for a postsecondary career; prepare students for postsecondary education programs; upgrade occupational competence; prepare students for a new or different career; develop skills and appreciation for special interests; or enrich the aesthetic qualities of life. Adult basic education programs are included in this category.
700Community/Junior College Education Programs. Activities for students attending an institution of higher education that usually offers the first 2 years of college instruction. If the school district is responsible for providing these programs, all costs of the programs should be coded here.
800Community Services Programs. Activities that are not directly related to the provision of educational services in a school district. These include such services as community recreation programs, civic activities, public libraries, programs of custody and care of children, and community welfare activities provided by the district for the community as a whole or for some segment of the community.

  • Community Recreation. Activities concerned with providing recreation for the community as a whole or for some segment of the community. Included are such staff activities as organizing and supervising playgrounds, swimming pools, and similar programs.
  • Civic Services. Activities concerned with providing services for civic affairs or to civic affairs organizations. This program area includes services to parent-teacher association meetings, public forums, lectures, and civil defense planning.
  • Public Library Services. Activities pertaining to the operation of public libraries by a school district or the provision of library services to the general public through the school library. Included are such activities as budgeting, planning, and augmenting the library's collection in relation to the community, and informing the community of public library resources and services.
  • Custody and Child Care Services. Activities pertaining to the provision of programs for the custodial care of children in residential day schools or child care centers that are not part of, or directly related to, the instructional program and where the attendance of the children is not included in the attendance figures for the district.
  • Welfare Activities. Activities addressing the personal needs of individuals who have been designated as needy by an appropriate governmental entity. These needs include stipends for school attendance; salaries paid to students for work performed (whether for the school district or for an outside concern); and funds for clothing, food, or other personal needs.
  • Other Community Services. Activities provided to the community that cannot be classified under the other program 800 codes.
900Cocurricular and Extracurricular Activities. Activities that add to a student's educational experience but are not related to educational activities. These activities typically include events and activities that take place outside the traditional classroom. Some examples of such activities are student government, athletics, band, choir, clubs, and honors societies.

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4 Prekindergarten refers to all programs and ages preceding kindergarten, including infant and early childhood programs.

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