Sunday, June 10, 2012

State performance audit report . . .

The State Auditor's office recently did a performance audit of all 295 school districts in the state focused on expenditures to determine how much each spends on teaching.  The office disagrees with OSPI data on the subject believing that they inflate the number by using "instructional support" expenditures in their calculation.  You can read about it on this Education Week report or go right to the auditors report here.

In the Education Week article a staff member gave this reason for doing the audit.

The state auditor decided to do this performance review because taking a closer look at education spending has been repeatedly identified by citizens and lawmakers as a high priority, said department spokeswoman Mindy Chambers. About 43 percent of the state budget is spent on K-12 education.

The performance audit objectives were to:
• Compare Washington’s education spending with other states.
• Compare education spending among Washington school districts.
• Identify major non-instructional cost drivers.
• Document how school districts reported they control non-instructional spending.
• Make school district demographic, spending, and achievement data available in a user-friendly format.

T o give you a context for the information here are some charts from the report.  The first shows the revenue sources for education dollars in our state.  It shows how the state cuts over the last few years are being replaced by local levy dollars with the state contribution decreasing from 71% to 64% and the local increasing from 20% to 22%.

The second chart compares the average percent spent on teaching in Washington to the average in the country.  We lag a little behind, but are closing the gap.

The final chart shows our district in comparison to what the auditor has identified as like districts.  A statistical analysis was done that placed each district into one of 37 peer groups based on enrollment, free and reduced lunch count, and special education enrollment.  We compare favorable in this peer group and are above the state average on the percentage spent on teaching.  Also included in the report are suggestions for districts on how to cut costs in non-teaching areas.  We are reviewing our data in light of these suggestions to see what opportunities are available to adjust our expenditures.

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