Archive for Friday, September 14, 2007

Panel spurns state accounting plan

September 14, 2007


State Rep. Holland on school reporting system

State Rep. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, talks about a proposal that would require schools to maintain a centralized accounting and reporting system.

— An education advisory panel on Thursday rejected a proposal to require Kansas school districts to implement a standardized accounting system on how they spend money.

Instead, the 2010 Commission unanimously agreed to recommend that the State Board of Education increase training of clerks who input budget data and update budget reporting practices as they see fit.

The issue - making available more detailed and uniform school budget information - is expected to be rehashed during the 2008 legislative session that starts in January.

State Rep. Lana Gordon, R-Topeka, argued that a centralized school budget accounting and reporting system would give lawmakers, administrators, school boards and the public more accurate information on how school districts spend allocations.

"I have continually been frustrated by the lack of transparency in school finance," Gordon said.

Kansans spend approximately $3 billion per year on public schools - more than half of the state budget. And lawmakers expect to be lobbied for more school funding next session.

"How can you tell me it's not enough funding when you can't see, line by line, what you're spending," Gordon said.

But educators and commissioners argued that while they supported increased disclosure and dissemination of budget information, Gordon's idea would be expensive, impractical and, in the long run, a waste of time and money.

An audit of 20 states similar to Kansas found that 14 of them have standardized accounting systems, under which school districts are required to record uniformly coded data into their computer systems. The report found that Arkansas spent $25 million 12 years ago to implement a financial management system for all its school districts.

"I would prefer those millions of dollars to go into the classroom," said Brenda Dietrich, superintendent of the Auburn-Washburn school district, who was speaking on behalf of the Kansas Association of School Administrators.

"How much money are you willing to spend to get down-to-the-minute information?" Rochelle Chronister, the chairwoman of the 2010 Commission, asked Gordon. Gordon replied that the cost was still unknown and that the state should find out.

State Rep. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, who owns an information technology consulting firm, told the commission there needed to be further study on the proposal before the Legislature voted on it. "The state should first conduct a cost-benefit analysis," Holland said.

Despite the setback, Gordon said she would continue to push for her proposal.


gop4life 10 years, 9 months ago

Who is this "2010 Commission" and how do we get smarter people on there? Kansas desperately needs schools to be able to compare budgets to eliminate waste. (Don't tell me there is no waste when students are getting PDAs on the public dole!)

dirkleisure 10 years, 9 months ago

The State BOE maintains a fairly substantial data warehouse on their website.

What else is needed?

kshiker 10 years, 9 months ago

Pigs at the trough. They want more funding with less accountability. Typical.

situveux1 10 years, 9 months ago

Schools will fight this tooth and nail because they need to hide the waste. If the public knew how much was being spent and where the cash flow would stop...can't have that. $25 million is cheap compared to the savings we'll gain in the long run. Since when is it too expensive for me to know where my tax dollars are going?

napoleon969 10 years, 9 months ago

This is just more of the same old story. "Just give us the money; we know how to spend it wisely in our own district." Bull_ _ _ _! School districts, just like every other taxpayer supported unit of government, should be required to account uniformly for the tax dollars they receive and spend. Shell games should be eliminated so anyone can determine the costs associated with running a particular attendance center. What have they got to hide? I wonder!

Godot 10 years, 9 months ago

How about 3% of the budget? That has to be less less than the waste in the current system.

Godot 10 years, 9 months ago

Sorry, that last post was in response to Chroister's question: "How much money are you willing to spend to get down-to-the-minute information?""

erod0723 10 years, 9 months ago

If you look at any high school, it is easy to see how much money is being thrown away or used without any oversight from district heads. Standardizing accounting practices will ensure that school districts efficiently use the money they are given. How much of the $3 bil a year is wasted? And if we can implement an accounting system similar to Arkansas for only $25 mil, this would be just chump change compared to the overall education budget.

gccs14r 10 years, 9 months ago

Not to mention the potential to standardize purchasing so that we can get volume discounts for everything from paperclips to textbooks to Driver's Ed cars. There is too much government in this State, and it starts with having too many counties. Cut the number of counties and school districts down to five of each and watch the expenses of government and education plummet.

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