Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Scott-O-Meter

Provide parents with annual financial reports on schools


"Our schools should provide to all parents a concise easy to understand financial statement about how much resources the school received and how the money was spent and what the academic outcomes were for the year. To make it even more relevant the data will be compared with other schools in the district and with other schools across the state."


Updates

Scott keeps promise on providing data to parents

Parents should be able to easily access financial information about their children's schools, according to Gov. Rick Scott.

During the 2010 campaign he said:

"Our schools should provide to all parents a concise easy to understand financial statement about how much resources the school received and how the money was spent and what the academic outcomes were for the year. To make it even more relevant the data will be compared with other schools in the district and with other schools across the state."

We asked the state Department of Education, has that happened?

A spokeswoman sent us to few different statutes or websites:

* 1002.20 about K-12 student and parental rights which includes "Parents of public school students are entitled to an easy-to-read report card about the grade designation, school accountability including the school financial report, and school improvement rating of their child"s school..." That section has been in place at least since 2002.

* House Bill 1255 Education Accountability that required "school district budget transparency" and stated "Each district school board shall post on its website a plain language version of each proposed, tentative, and official budget which describes each budget item in terms that are easily understandable to the public. This information must be prominently posted on the school district's website in a manner that is readily accessible to the public." The data must include information about upcoming budget hearings, contracts between the district and teachers unions and noninstructional staff, contracts worth more than $35,000, videos of school board meetings and other information.

That bill passed the House and Senate in May and was approved by Scott in June.

* The state Department of Education has a Return on Investment website which provides information about schools including FCAT scores and average teacher salaries as well as data about the district and the state. The data starts with the 2001-02 school year.

Two of the sources the Department of Education cited -- the K-12 student and parental rights statute and the Return on Investment website -- pre-date Scott. But House Bill 1255 which requires school boards to post a long list of data about budgets did pass under Scott's watch so we rate this Promise Kept.

Sources:

Florida statutes, "Student and parental rights and educational choices," Accessed Nov. 28, 2011

Florida Senate, House Bill 1255, Effective July 1, 2011

Florida Department of Education, Return on Investment website, Accessed Nov. 28, 2011

Florida Department of Education, E-mail from spokeswoman Cheryl Etters to Gov. Rick Scott's office in response to PolitiFact inquiry, Nov. 28, 2011

Interview, Deborah Higgins, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Education, Nov. 22, 2011

Interview, Brian Burgess, spokesman for Gov. Rick Scott, Nov. 30, 2011