-- 6700 -- OCAG Travel and Entertainment Expenses

A.  Scope

The charter school recognizes there will be times when employees will be required to travel or incur other expenses to conduct business that furthers the mission of the organization and must forego their living accommodations and may forfeit personal time. The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance for the reimbursement of expenses and covers all employees who travel on behalf of the school. It is the policy of the school to only reimburse approved, reasonable, and necessary expenses actually incurred by those who travel. 

All employees who are traveling on behalf of the school are required to: 
  1. Obtain necessary prior approval prior to travel. 
  2. Exercise discretion and good business judgement with respect to travel expenses. The charter school reserves the right to deny reimbursement of expenses that are considered lavish or extravagant.
  3. Arrange and pay for expenses prior to submitting Expense Report for reimbursement. 
  4. Provide a completed Expense Report to their supervisor for approval; including all receipts for transportation, meals and reasonable expenses incurred from start to finish of the business travel.

B.  Prior Approval

All employee travel and mode of transportation must be approved in advance by the appropriate party. It is the responsibility of the individual planning to travel to obtain the necessary prior approval. For purposes of this policy, appropriate approval parties are:
  • For operations employees; the School Operations Manager (SOM). 
  • For academic employees; the Head of School (HOS)/Principal.
  • For all others; their direct supervisor. 

C. Authorized Expenses 

Authorized expenses include the following if original receipts are presented with Expense Report:
  • Airfare
    • Employees are expected to obtain the lowest available airfare that reasonably meets business needs.
    • Travel to and from the airport for a flight is not reimbursable.
  • Rail Transportation
    • Employees are eligible to use rail transportation provided that the cost does not exceed the cost of the least expensive airfare.
  • Automobile (personally owned)
    • A valid driver’s license issued within the United States and personal automobile insurance are required for expenses to be reimbursed.
    • Drivers should be aware of the extent of coverage (if any) provided by his or her automobile insurance company for travel that is business or not personal in nature.
    • Reimbursement for use of a personal automobile is based on the current IRS mileage rate. Gas is not reimbursable. 
    • Local (in county) travel for work is not reimbursable.
  • Automobile (rental)
    • Optima Foundation authorizes reimbursement for the most economic vehicle available. In certain circumstances larger vehicles may be rented, with supervisory approval.
    • The rental agreement must clearly show the date and the points of departure/arrival, as well as the total cost.
    • Drivers must adhere to the rental requirements, and restrictions must be followed.
    • Drivers should be aware of the extent of coverage (if any) provided by his or her automobile insurance company for travel that is business or not personal in nature.    
  • Conference Registration Fees
    • If conference fees were not prepaid, the school will reimburse these fees, including business-related banquets or meals that are part of the conference registration.
  • Lodging
    • Lodging expenses will be reimbursed at reasonable standard room rates.
  • Meals
    • For meals, employees are allocated a maximum of $45 per day; generally, $10.00 for breakfast, $15.00 for lunch, and $20.00 for dinner.
    • Receipts for per diem meals are not required. 
    • All expenses, other than per diem meals, require receipts. 
  • Parking
    • Required parking fees are reimbursable. 
    • The lodging bill can be used as a receipt when charges are included as part of the overnight stay.
  • Tolls
    • Transponder record showing individual paid tolls may be submitted in lieu of toll booth receipts.
  • Miscellaneous Transportation
    • Taxi, bus, subway, metro, ferry, and other modes of transportation.

D.  Unauthorized Expenses

Unauthorized expenses include, but are not limited to, alcohol, entertainment, fines for traffic violations, and the entertainment/travel/meals/lodging of spouses or guests.

E.  Travel Arrangements

All arrangements required for business travel are to be made by the individual participating in the travel. Unless otherwise agreed to by your supervisor, all expenses shall be paid by the employee to be reimbursed by the organization afterwards. The organization discourages the use of cash advances to pay for travel expenses; however, should a cash advance be necessary and approved by the supervisor, all receipts must be submitted for the funds advanced. Any amount not covered by the receipts shall be returned to the school upon the conclusion of the travel. Direct billing to the charter school from hotels, restaurants, etc. is not permitted.

F.  Expense Guidelines

The School Employee Expense Reimbursement procedure details how expenses will be paid.

G.  Expense Report Preparation and Reimbursement

All business travel and entertainment expenditures incurred by employees are reimbursed through the use of a standard expense report. Expense reports must be completed and turned in within two weeks of return from travel or expense date(s). 

Upon completion, the expense report along with all supporting documentation and receipts should be turned into the employee’s supervisor for approval. After approval, the expense report is submitted to the Optima Finance department email address (finance@optimaed.org) by the employee for processing and reimbursement. To expedite reimbursements, the employee should ensure that the report is completed properly, required documentation is attached, proper authorization has been obtained, and any unusual items are properly explained and documented. Authorized expense reports will be reimbursed by check, normally within two weeks after receipt by the Optima Finance department.

Adopted: 02/06/2024