By: Callie Jones, Journal-Advocate News Editor
Original Post from The Journal-Advocate News
Spending of schools and districts featured on easy-to-understand financial transparency web portal
A second full year of financial information is now available on the Financial Transparency for Colorado Schools Website that presents school and district financial information in an easy-to-understand format.
The web portal was launched last year populated with financial data from the 2015-16 school year, the latest available. Now, information has been added from the 2016-17 school year.
Data for RE-1 Valley School District shows the district spent $9,082 per student in 2016-17, slightly below the state average of $10,196 and down from $9,396 in 2015-16. Total spending was $32,475,822, while total funding was at $31,436,583.
Buffalo RE-4J (Merino) School District spent $11,543 per student in 2016-17, its total spending for the year was $3,684,531 and total funding was $3,846,183; Frenchman RE-3 (Fleming) spent $13,130 per student, its total spending was $2,709,095 and total funding was $2,794,981; and Plateau RE-5 (Peetz), spent $18,319 per student, its total spending was $3,117,260 and its total funding was $3,072,908.
The website, https://coloradok12financialtransparency.com, was created in response to legislation that required the state to present financial information for every school district, BOCES and most schools in Colorado. Lawmakers sought a way to provide the public with a deeper understanding of how education dollars are spent in schools, districts and BOCES.
In 2010, House Bill 1036 required districts to post financial information online, including budgets, financial audits, check registers and credit card statements. In 2014, the legislature enhanced that legislation with House Bill 1292 that required each district and BOCES to post financial data so it can be displayed in an easy-to-understand way.
The Colorado Department of Education partnered with BrightBytes®, a San Francisco education analytics firm, to build the website.
In 2017, every district and BOCES in Colorado provided their own data to populate the site. Districts identified as small/rural with fewer than 1,000 students and that had no charter schools were required to post district-level financial information only.
The data is presented in two domains, spending and funding:
• The spending domains show investments classified by three key categories: learning, operations and construction - making it easy to understand how dollars are being allocated.
• The funding domains enable visitors to see funding by local, state and federal sources.
Visitors to the site can compare information at the school-, district- or BOCES-level through a side-by-side view of up to four schools or education organizations at a time. Since its launch on June 30, 2017, the website has garnered 93,818 page visits from a total of 11,656 visitors.