ATLANTA — The Georgia Public Policy Foundation has released a Web site that tracks, down more than $14 billion in spending throughout Georgia’s 180 school systems and more than 2,000 schools.
Available at http://reportcard.gppf.org/, the spending details on the Web site are based on data from the Georgia Department of Education and show how money is allocated among each school system’s central office and its individual schools. Every dollar amount is categorized into one of 11 different functions, such as spending for instruction or administration, and more than 100 detailed spending areas such as supplies, books or salaries.
“For the first time ever, parents can find out exactly how much money their school is receiving from their school system and how much is being spent at the central office, information that will be helpful to school councils,” said Kelly McCutchen, executive vice president of the foundation.
She said the foundation started the project as part of a project to bring information about government and its spending to the public.
“Everyone spends money more carefully if they know someone is looking over their shoulder,” she said. “We know, based upon the experience in other states, that transparency will lead to cost savings as we identify duplication, waste and opportunities for efficiencies.”
Sandra Fabry, executive director of the Center for Fiscal Accountability, a project of the Washington-based Americans for Tax Reform, described the Web site as “the most detailed single school spending transparency website we have seen.”
“Congratulations to the Georgia Public Policy Foundation for giving Georgia parents such a great tool to track how their children’s schools are spending their tax dollars,” Fabry said.
The data exclude capital spending, such as buildings or buses. The data are available per student or total dollar amounts. All of the data can be easily downloaded for Georgians who want to conduct their own analysis. Interactive charts allow users to compare per-student spending to similar schools across the state.
Also available on the Web site is the Report Card for Parents, the academic achievement data and school rankings that the foundation has published annually for more than a decade.
The foundation cautions that not all school systems allocate spending in the same manner. For example, spending by the school system on transportation or facility maintenance may benefit a particular school but may not be reported at the school level if the school system chooses not to individually allocate those expenses. Individuals interested in learning more about financial procedures should contact their local school system officials.