Office of Business Operations

School Bank Accounts

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a school open an account with any bank that is convenient to the school?
Can a school open a new bank account directly at a bank branch?
Can a school request an ATM/debit card in association with its General School Fund (GSF) account?
Can the PTA use the City’s tax identification number (TIN) to establish a bank account?
Do PAs/PTAs need to register their bank accounts with the DOE?
How should a school close an existing bank account?
How can signatories be changed on an existing bank account?
Can a treasurer be a signatory?
What guidance can you provide concerning bank account reconciliation?
Are schools required to place stop payments on issued checks that do not clear within three months?
Are the DOF designated banks required to provide copies of cancelled checks along with the monthly statements and provide actual "returned checks" for legal claim to funds?
What kind of funds can be deposited into a GSF account?
What kind of disbursements can be made from a GSF account?
Can grants be deposited into a GSF account?
How should a school handle cash receipts?
How can disbursements be made from the GSF account?
How do I fund and maintain a petty cash account?
What should be done with excess funds received from non-fundraising activities (for example, $40 left over from a field trip)?
During field trips, a school will often have additional expenses that are not adequately covered by money collected from parents (for example, lunch for a student who failed to bring a sack lunch, tolls, tips for guides). How should these shortfalls be handled?
A vendor has requested a tax exempt number from us before it can provide goods/services. Where can a school obtain this?
What happens if a vendor does not provide a packing slip (for example, cap and gowns)?
We see that audits are sometimes repeated multiple times. Is there a reason for this?

(Printable Version)


Opening and Closing a Bank Account

Can a school open an account with any bank that is convenient to the school?
The account must be opened with the help of the DOE’s Banking Unit. This ensures that the new bank is authorized by the New York City Department of Finance (DOF) to hold deposits of City funds. There are approximately 25 banks that have this designation. Please see the list of DOF designated banks to ensure that you select an appropriate bank for your school.
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Can a school open a new bank account directly at a bank branch?
No. The school should not open an account on their own (directly through a bank branch). The opening of an account must be initiated through the DOE to ensure that the proper information and documentation is collected and transferred to the NYC DOF. For detailed information about opening a new bank account and to find the necessary documentation, please visit the General School Funds & Cash Transactions chapter of DFO’s Standard Operating Procedures manual. You may also call the DOE Banking Unit for assistance: (718) 935-2654.
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Can a school request an ATM/debit card in association with its General School Fund (GSF) account?
No. Use of an ATM/debit card associated with a GSF account is strictly prohibited. Designated banks are not permitted to issue ATM/debit cards to schools.
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Can the PTA use the City’s tax identification number (TIN) to establish a bank account?
No. The NYC DOF does not permit PAs/PTAs, Teachers’ Associations, or any other school-related committee to use the City’s TIN to establish a bank account. Bank accounts established by these entities must be opened using the entity’s own Employer Identification Number (EIN). (Note: An EIN can be obtained from the Internal Revenue Service.)
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Do PAs/PTAs need to register their bank accounts with the DOE?
No. Neither the DOF nor the DOE Banking Unit requires registration of a PA/PTA bank account.
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How should a school close an existing bank account?
To close a school bank account, a principal should:

  • Ensure all outstanding checks are cleared, and all pending adjustments with the bank are made and settled
  • In order to reduce the balance to zero, transfer any remaining funds left
    in the account to an active account at an authorized/designated bank
  • Prepare the final reconciliation of the account
  • Obtain a copy of the final bank statement showing a zero account balance
  • Write a letter, addressed to the bank, on school letterhead requesting the closure of the account
  • Mail the final bank statement and the letter to the DOE Banking Unit:

New York City Department of Education
Division of Financial Operations, Banking Unit
65 Court Street, Room 1802
Brooklyn, NY  11201

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Bank Account Maintenance

How can signatories be changed on an existing bank account?
A principal should first call the DOE Banking Unit to request new bank signature cards: (718) 935-2654.

Once the signature cards are received via e-mail, the principal must prepare a formal letter, addressed to the bank on school letterhead, requesting modification to the list of existing bank signatories. The letter should include the following information:

  • Bank name and account number
  • Names and titles of existing signatories
  • Names and titles of new signatories
  • The letter, along with signature cards signed by the new signatories, must be mailed to the DOE Banking Unit at the following address

New York City Department of Education
Division of Financial Operations, Banking Unit
65 Court Street, Room 1802
Brooklyn, NY  11201 

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Can a treasurer be a signatory?
No. The treasurer is not allowed to be a signatory.
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What guidance can you provide concerning bank account reconciliation?
All bank accounts should be reconciled monthly after the monthly statement is received from the bank. The reconciled balance of the June 30th bank statement must be submitted to the DOE Banking Unit via the online Bank Account Survey. This can be done over the summer but no later than the middle of September.
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Are schools required to place stop payments on issued checks that do not clear within three months?
A school is liable for any check it issues and funds should remain available. If a check is not cashed within 60 days of issuance, it is recommended that the school contact the payee to discuss and resolve the issue. If the school is unable to reach the payee, or it does not receive a response from the payee and the check remains outstanding for an additional 30 days, the school should request a stop payment on the check.
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Are the DOF designated banks required to provide copies of cancelled checks along with the monthly statements and provide actual "returned checks" for legal claim to funds?
Banks should provide copies of all cancelled checks, along with the monthly bank statement. Original checks are no longer provided.
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Working with Funds

What kind of funds can be deposited into a GSF account?
Monies derived from fund raising, senior dues, fees (including lunch fees), sales, and donations.
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What kind of disbursements can be made from a GSF account?
Any expenditure related to students’ extra-curricular and co-curricular activities. Please note that any equipment purchased with general school fund money must be inventoried and secured with the same care as equipment purchased with tax levy or reimbursable funds. For additional guidance, refer to both theInventory and Other Than Personal Service (OTPS) Purchases chapters of DFO’s Standard Operating Procedures manual.
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Can grants be deposited into a GSF account?
No. All grant money must flow through the school’s budget. If a grantor mails a grant check or money order to the school, the school must log on to the School Based Gifts & Grants Reporting System to record the receipt of the grant. The system will automatically route an electronic report to the Senior Grants Officer (SGO) at the school’s Children First Network (CFN). The school must then mail the following to the SGO:

  • Grant check or money order
  • Copy of the grant award letter from the grantor
  • Copy of the school’s proposal or letter requesting the grant
  • Copy of the grant spending guidelines

Once received, the SGO will have the grant funds added to the school’s Galaxy budget. The school must collaborate with its SGO to schedule spending based on the requirements of the grant. Copies of all associated grant documentation, including spending guidelines and evaluation reports, must be kept on file at the school and CFN for six (6) years.
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How should a school handle cash receipts?
All cash should be given to the school treasurer to be deposited into the GSF bank account. A receipt must be given to each individual from whom funds are received. Deposits should be made on a daily basis, (or as close to daily as possible). All cash receipts should be appropriately documented in the Cash Receipts Journal.
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How can disbursements be made from the GSF account?
All disbursements from the GSF account must be approved in writing by the principal or his/her designee. Disbursements should be made by check only. Funds received and deposited into the GSF as a result of student fundraising activities should only be disbursed to directly benefit the students.
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How do I fund and maintain a petty cash account?
While reimbursement for expenditures should be made by check whenever possible, petty cash (cash on hand) can be used to meet small immediate expenses resulting from student activities. To fund a petty cash account, the treasurer can write a check payable to him or herself in an amount not to exceed $200. Cash on hand should never exceed $200.

To request advances from petty cash, the requestor must complete a Petty Cash Voucher and obtain approval from the principal or his/her designee. Once approved, the treasurer should assign a number to the voucher, in sequential order, and then record the transaction in the corresponding column of the school’s Cash Disbursement Journal. Once purchases have been made, all receipts or invoices – regardless of the size of the expenditure – must be submitted to the treasurer so that they may be attached to the Petty Cash Voucher and filed. (Additional details can be found in the General School Funds & Cash Transactions chapter of DFO’s Standard Operating Procedures manual, section 5.8.)
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What should be done with excess funds received from non-fundraising activities (for example, $40 left over from a field trip)?
Excess funds received from non-fundraising activities (i.e., funds collected directly from students for an activity, trip, or event) should be returned to the individual students.

If the excess funds were originally collected to pay for senior dues, the funds should either be refunded to the seniors, or used as determined by the seniors/senior committee. Schools may wish to establish a special sub-account within their GSF account (for example, a special purpose fund) to track these funds. If the special purpose fund remains inactive for five (5) years, the remaining funds can be added to the student organization general fund.
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During field trips, a school will often have additional expenses that are not adequately covered by money collected from parents (for example, lunch for a student who failed to bring a sack lunch, tolls, tips for guides). How should these shortfalls be handled?
Any student-related expense associated with a field trip can be paid from the school’s GSF account. All disbursements must be supported by the appropriate documentation and noted in the associated Cash Disbursement Journal.
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Working with Vendors

A vendor has requested a tax exempt number from us before it can provide goods/services. Where can a school obtain this?

Either the number, or a formal letter containing the DOE’s tax exempt number, can be obtained by calling the DOE Banking Unit: (718) 935-2654.
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What happens if a vendor does not provide a packing slip (for example, cap and gowns)?
As long as a school can certify that the items were delivered, the invoice can be paid. If there is a discrepancy with either the price or quantity, the school should resolve the issue directly with the vendor.
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Audits

We see that audits are sometimes repeated multiple times. Is there a reason for this?
Most audits of school bank accounts are supervised by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG). The school should contact OAG directly if it has a question or concern about an audit.
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