KASB releases data tools on district budget allocation

How much of your school district’s budget is spent on instruction? How much on other student services like counselors, nurses, libraries and instructional technology? How much on food service and transportation? How much to build and operate school facilities?

Based on last year’s final budget data, KASB has created two data tools to easily display how each school district in the state allocated its total funding between 11 budget “functions” – the major categories of school expenditures.

You can access this information on the KASB website by hovering over “Research” at the top of the page then clicking on “District Level Data.” (Or follow this link.) Then click on “Percent of Budget by Instruction and Other Functions.” You will have two choices.

Click on “Interactive Tool” (or follow this link) to a Tableau program that allow you to select a district and view or download a pie chart, area chart or table with all 11 budget areas, or simplified charts and tables with three broad categories: direct support for students and teachers; buildings, grounds and operations; and central services and general administrations.

Click on “Excel File” (or follow this link) to download an excel file to see a pie chart and data for each district by entering a USD number.

School leaders can use this data to easily show to board members, patrons and legislators how they spend their financial resources, and use to discuss why they make those decisions, what additional needs they have and how additional resources would be used.

You can copy these charts for district publications, presentations or social media.

It is important to note that there is no “correct” percentage of budget to spend on any category. There is a state “policy goal” that that 65 percent of education funding provided by the state should be spent on “instruction” or “in the classroom” – but the law does not define what “in the classroom” means. There is no clear evidence that spending a certain percentage of funding on instruction – at the expense of other budget functions – provides better outcomes.

In fact, differences in budget percentages will be due as much or more to local district differences as local choices. A district with a large bond issue due to enrollment growth or recent renovations will spend more on debt service. A district that must transport more students for longer distances will spend more on transportation. A district hosting a special education cooperative and hiring teachers will spend more instruction. A district with more small school buildings will spend more on school administration. A district with older facilities will spend more on operations and maintenance.

However, school districts statewide spend 75 percent of funds on direct support for teachers and students, about 20 percent to build and operate school facilities, and less than five percent on general administration and central services.

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