- Fort Smith School District
Charles Warren Chosen for Outstanding CPA in Government Award
Charles W. Warren, CPA, has been selected to receive the 2020 Arkansas Society of Certified Public Accountants (ARCPA) Outstanding CPA in Government Award. This award recognizes the achievements of individual CPAs in government service. Emphasis for selecting the winner of this award is placed primarily on a candidate’s contribution to the increased efficiency and effectiveness of his/her government organization and the growth and enhancement of the accounting profession.
"I'm extremely proud to receive this award. It is because of the continuous support of District Administration and the excellent work of the Business Office staff every day that made this honor a reality," said Warren.
Charles Warren is the Chief Financial Officer for the Fort Smith Public School District. He is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Accounting from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Capella University.
"I'm grateful for the recognition from my peers at the Arkansas Society of CPAs. My research indicates only three K-12 school business officials have been named Outstanding CPA in Government in the history of the society. The District has a rich tradition of recognizing the value of the CPA designation as a requirement for the CFO position. My predecessor, Ellen Terry, earned this same award almost twenty years ago. Fort Smith Public Schools now holds two of those three awards," Warren noted.
Warren began his career in public accounting in 1988 with Baird Kurtz & Dobson, CPAs, (now BKD, LLP). He worked for fifteen years for ERC Properties, Inc. as an Assistant Controller and Vice President of Accounting. He oversaw the accounting and financing of all assets in development and construction for the company. He later returned to public accounting, specializing in pass-through entity taxation at Hankins & Company, CPAs.
Warren began working for the Fort Smith Public Schools District (FSPS or the District) in 2009. His tenure with FSPS over the past decade has been impactful. In collaboration with the Arkansas Department of Education, he managed the conversion of the District’s accounting software. Warren also successfully converted the District’s independent audit from a GASB audit to a regulatory audit a year before the state law changed to require all Arkansas school districts to use the regulatory audit. He transitioned a substantial portion of expenditures to allow payment with a corporate credit card. Since the program’s creation, almost one million dollars in credit card rebates have been collected by FSPS.
"I began my career in public education finance later in life than most, but I've been able to bring a wealth of experiences in accounting, payroll and even construction that has served me well. My work and role at Fort Smith Public Schools is very rewarding to me. This achievement affirms my contribution is equally valued and beneficial to the District," Warren added.
He also developed a long-term solution and found funding to support a 1:1 (one laptop computer for every student) initiative at FSPS. The program was finalized in 2019, with a computer assigned to every student in the District. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the entire nation had to pivot away from off-campus teaching, FSPS was well-positioned to continue virtually.
Warren has provided significant support to FSPS to successfully pass a millage increase for the first time in over thirty years. Moreover, his management of the financing and spending of the Vision 2023 Capital Improvement Program created from the millage has had a real impact on FSPS. His financing timeline has saved thousands of dollars in interest expense and generated millions of dollars in interest earnings. He directly oversees the expenditures ($127 million) of the entire program.
Warren has served as President of the Arkansas Association of School Business Officials (AASBO). While on the Board of Directors of AASBO, he established a CPE sponsorship license with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). Warren conducts numerous classes for AASBO on school revenue and human resource compliance issues. AASBO administers the Certification of Arkansas School Business Officials (CASBO) program for the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) to ensure District Business Managers of all Arkansas school districts complete the certification process.
Warren completed the NASBA application for Arkansas AASBO and converted fourteen of the two-hour CASBO courses to qualify for continuing professional education (CPE) credits. As a result of Warren’s efforts, AASBO is now better positioned to encourage other CPAs to consider working in the public education field.
As a member of the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO International), Warren successfully passed a comprehensive, competency-based exam. He received the Certified Administrator of School Finance and Operations (SFO) designation in 2019. He is the first and only SFO in the State of Arkansas. He is also a member of the Financial Resources Management AASBO Task Group, and in 2020 helped to review and update the AASBO International Professional Standards and Code of Ethics.
Warren is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Arkansas Society of Certified Public Accountants (ARCPA). ARCPA has recognized him before as the recipient of the Outstanding Public Service Award in 2010. Warren is active in the Western Chapter of ARCPA and currently serves as its Treasurer. Charles Warren lives in Fort Smith with his wife, Missy. The couple has two children and enjoys spending time with their daughter Marley and son-in-law Justin and son Jesse and daughter-in-law Jackie.
The Arkansas Society of CPAs will formally recognize Mr. Warren during its virtual Annual Business Meeting on Thursday, August 26 at Noon. Warren will become the Arkansas nominee for consideration of the American Institute of CPAs Government Award.