In 2014, Colorado passed a law requiring more transparency on school-level finances. This law was the first in the nation requiring the public reporting of school-level expenditures.
Many advocates consider the law a model for financial transparency.
A key component of the law is a requirement that by July 1, 2017, the Colorado Department of Education produce a public-facing financial transparency website that translates spending for school sites, districts, and other state-funded organizations into a format that is digestible for the general public.
While the legislation and resulting user interface is a model for other states, the data that it calls for could be invaluable to Colorado families, educators, and policymakers. Recently, the Colorado Department of Education released a pilot of their website hoping to accomplish that goal. According to Colorado Succeeds, who worked on the legislation with fellow PIE Network member Stand Colorado in 2014, the website’s user interface is something to be celebrated, but a few key changes should be made to improve the data to help parents make apples-to-apples comparisons of schools and inform efforts to improve school funding in the state.
Colorado Succeeds, along with advocacy groups Ready Colorado, DFER Colorado, Stand Colorado and the Colorado League of Charter Schools are looking forward to working with the Colorado Department of Education to make sure the site is of the highest value.
Why this matters.
Many states are in the process of building out their school financial transparency on the heels of the Every Student Succeeds Act mandate that school-level per-pupil expenditures are reported on state report cards. For advocates in states working on financial transparency or those looking to make the case for it, the advocates in Colorado mentioned above would be an excellent resource.