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Two things: Finding things in plain sight

January 26, 2016

Sunday night, State Senator Kyle Loveless made the media rounds suggesting a report card for school district expenditures.

As Fox 25 in Oklahoma City reported:

State Senator Kyle Loveless has a new goal, to create a transparent spending system throughout Oklahoma’s school system. He says the information is out there, but it’s hard to find and he wants to make it easy for parents and tax payers by creating a fiscal report card.

I don’t want to debate the merit of his plan right now. Honestly, it just sounds like a distraction from someone who doesn’t want to talk about the fact that the state of Oklahoma has made deeper cuts to K-12 education than any other state in the country. Instead, I’ll give you two places, where the aforementioned financial data hides in plain sight.

  1. If you want to find out all kinds of information about schools and school districts, just hop on over to the Office of Educational Quality and Accountability (OEQA), formerly the Office of Accountability. Click on the county of the school district you want to research. Then click on the name of the district. Let’s use Mid-Del Public Schools as an example.MD EQA 1 MD EQA 2

    What you get is a two page report card with demographic, expenditure, and student achievement information. The downside is that some of the information is a little behind. Here we are in 2016, and the newest figures on here are from the 2013-14 school year. Still, you can get a general idea of how districts spend their money, if that’s a thing you want to know. Let me zoom in closer.
    MD EQA 3As you can see, during this school year, Mid-Del spent 54.6% of all expenditures on instruction and another 4.3% on instructional support. That’s a total of 58.9%. The state averages were 52.7% and 3.8%, totaling 56.5%.

    Mid-Del spent less than the state average (by percentage) on district administration, but more on site administration. Overall, the district spent about the average for the state. What does any of this mean? Whatever you as the person reading the information want it to mean. The point is that the information is there. It has been since 1997 – in plain sight.

  2. It hasn’t been around as long, and maybe it’s not as easy to find, but the Oklahoma State Department of Education has a site that breaks down expenditures into even greater detail. It is the Oklahoma Cost Accounting System (OCAS) site. Here you can pick a district and review their data. Let’s pick on mine again.MD OCAS 1 MD OCAS 2

    These reports are for the 2014-15 school year. You can click on the links and see details as minor as the fact that we spent $899.90 on overtime costs in Child Nutrition for the school year. You can even download everything into a massive spreadsheet.

    There are a number of different reports in PDF files as well. And if you want, you can even look at the data by school site. It’s all right there. It may not have one of those fancy pie charts that Loveless wants us to use; instead, it has all the information we could want to answer our questions. If you’re really curious, that should be what you’re looking for.


Regardless of where you find your information on how a district near you spends its money, there is one thing you need to remember. The main thing we do in schools – the reason we have schools in the first place – is for teaching and learning. Every penny we spend – whether it’s on teachers, textbooks, and technology, or it’s on utilities, buses, and lunches – supports instruction. Every superintendent worth a damn knows this. Every school patron has a right to know it. That’s why the information is already out there.

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  1. Pamela Huston
    January 26, 2016 at 8:25 am

    Instruction should ALWAYS be the focus of every school district. Well said!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kate
    January 26, 2016 at 8:44 am

    You are correct. It’s just a distraction…well, it’s also an implication — that instead of talking about how much Oklahoma underfunds its schools, we should talk about whether or not schools waste money.
    This distraction, like so many others in legislation, would end up just WASTING MORE MONEY, probably millions for a new software system nobody needs and no one would use. (But, then, some lucky corporation or consultant group would end up with that money, eh?)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. January 29, 2016 at 9:17 am

    There is a bad link in the #1 OEQA it should be http://schoolreportcard.org/report-card/county

    Like

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