December 5, 2017

Auditor releases report on K-12 school data

JEFFERSON CITY -- Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway Monday released an audit of the financial data reported by K-12 schools to the state's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). The audit includes a review of the data and recommendations to ensure it can be used effectively by schools as they work to improve educational opportunities in their communities.

Missouri's K-12 schools report financial information each year to DESE. The audit specifically reviewed administration costs, which include the expenses of the principals' and superintendents' offices, administrative support staff and school board. When schools report the data, they classify the exact use of funds as a specific category such as fiscal services, executive administration and building level administration.

A review of this data found inconsistencies in the way spending is recorded across school districts. On multiple occasions, school districts categorized similar costs to different categories. The report recommends that DESE provide additional information to school districts to ensure financial information is properly and consistently recorded.

Disparities were also identified in superintendent salaries at school districts of similar size and location. The report found this type of comparative analysis is not readily available to school districts and recommended that DESE provide reports that would be beneficial to schools as they make budget and salary decisions.

Data also revealed that over a 12-year period, superintendent salaries have increased by 31 percent while teacher salaries increased by only 22 percent. The report also found information provided to DESE about administrator compensation may not be complete or accurate and recommends improving the process to report that data.

The report also included information on school expenditures compared to annual performance and recommended additional evaluation of how spending decisions impact school performance.

The complete report is available here.