Finance Data on MoSchoolRankings Updated
The Show-Me Institute has added 2021–22 finance data to the MOSchoolRankings.org website. Now users can see two years of detailed financial data for every public school district and public charter school in the state. But let’s take a minute to address a couple of issues and likely questions.
Why did the Show-Me Institute decide to include/exclude “X” category of revenue or spending?
We didn’t. These numbers all come from a report titled the Annual Secretary to the Board Report (ASBR) that each school district and charter school submits to the state. ASBRs are prepared based on guidelines in the Missouri Financial Accounting Manual. ASBRs account for each dollar that comes into a district and each that is spent. Money comes from many sources, including some that may be surprising, such as bookstore sales, food sales to parents, or tuition from other districts. Some sources, such as revenue received from issuing bonds to build a building, are large, one-time infusions of money. We didn’t distinguish between which sources are “important” or “appropriate” for users to consider. We included all money that flowed into each district from every source.
Similarly, we included every expenditure reported in the ASBR. When the site was first launched, many questioned why we included capital expenses, such as land. Again, we included everything reported and provided sufficient detail for users to disregard what they deem to not be true education expenses. Remember, however, that every dollar spent by a public school district is a dollar that wasn’t spent elsewhere for a different public purpose.
Why are the numbers so high?
When every dollar that is spent by public school districts is totaled up and divided by the number of students, the result is often higher than what the public assumes it will be. Survey after survey finds that the public grossly underestimates public education spending. In addition, public education spending-per-student data frequently excludes certain expenditures. Often what is reported is current expenditures or instruction expenditures. The expenditures per student on MOSchoolRankings.org uses the Annual Secretary to the Board Report (ASBR) Total Expenditures as the numerator and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)-reported enrollment for each district as the denominator.
Why don’t the numbers match the expenditures per student on the academic side of the website?
When the Show-Me Institute first launched MOSchoolRankings.org with academic grades for each school and district in the state, we included total expenditures per student for context. These numbers come from a DESE file titled Finance Data and Statistics Summary for All Districts/Charters. We have continued to use this file with each update for consistency. Why those numbers differ from the ASBR totals is not clear.
We hope you find the updated data on the website useful. We are committed to updating the MoSchoolRankings site to give Missourians the best data available on schools in our state.