More Support for Redesigning Financial Reports for Schools
Guest blogger Marguerite Roza challenges charter schools to take on the task of containing their costs in her column found on EducationNext.org today. However, the standard for economic analyses may need to be set before it can be implemented. In the comments, I offered my plea for better financial reporting one more time…
In their defense, charters and district schools suffer from a mixture of data limitations and relative marginalization of school business managers. A nudge is in order that must begin with the Feds.
Charters and district schools would benefit from a new standard for financial statements. The federal filing rules do not include adequate detail in financials to manage productivity, and detail is diminished when going from the district level to the school. In order to achieve prudent and creative fiscal management, schools need financial reports that conform to a business model rather than focusing on regulatory oversight of special government programs.
Districts vary in their use of discretion over internal reports. However, the entire education system could be nudged in the direction of cogent analyses of their business models if the DOE were to redesign fiscal data requirements around both macro and micro considerations.
In addition, greater depth of training in business analysis is needed for school leaders, which would be more easily achieved once the aforementioned financials were improved in their transparency and accessibility.
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