Whether invested dollars are being used effectively is always a significant question when it comes to school funding. We put a lot into our public schools here in Texas, but it’s not always clear to parents and voters where that money is going or how it’s being used to better the school it’s going to.
Katy ISD is taking steps to change that. Yourhoustonnews.com outlines the details of their new “Public Dashboard”, an information source for parents on the district’s financial and academic data. From the story:
The dashboard, which Katy ISD hopes to start using this month, will help parents and students see a variety of district statistics. Statistics would be updated at least once a month, or when data becomes available. Such numbers include enrollment, district employment, budget information, and standardized test performance, among other things.
Similar data is currently available through statewide databases like the Financial Allocation Study for Texas (F.A.S.T.) and the Texas Education Agency’s Public Education Information Management System data. However, while the information available through these sites is extremely detailed, it does take a little time and practice to effectively glean data from them for a specific district. An individual website at the district level that makes such data easily accessed and understood for that area would likely be much more user friendly for parents seeking information on their district.
Another important feature of Katy’s dashboard will be real time, monthly information updates to the website. The F.A.S.T. and PEIMS reports are generally only updated on an annual basis. If the dashboard works as Katy ISD trustees hope it will, the site will be “a step toward transparency that is great for our community,” according to KISD school board president Rebecca Fox.
Hopefully other school districts will take a cue from this initiative in Katy. The more locally driven transparency there is in our schools, the clearer a sense curious parents will have as to whether the dollars spent in their local school are having a positive impact on their child’s education. Katy is taking a strong step toward achieving just that sort of transparency.