WASB Suggests Improvements to Bill to Require Posting of School District’s Annual Financial Reports and Audits

The Assembly Education Committee held a hearing this week on Assembly Bill 321, a proposal that would require each school district to post its annual report and annual audit on the district’s Internet site. The bill would also require the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to create a sample budget summary form for school districts to use in the preparation of their annual budgets.

The WASB spoke in opposition to the provisions in the bill, as drafted, that would require posting of these documents, citing concerns about the costs to districts, especially for small school districts, of yet another mandate. (Under the bill as drafted, districts would not only have to post this information but would have to continually update this information. )

While we recognized the value of transparency and openness, the WASB noted that the DPI already posts copies of a variety of information on its school finance reporting portal, including each district’s annual (PI-1505) report and information about the district’s auditor.  For that reason the WASB suggested it would make more sense to have the DPI continue to post these annual reports as well as the audit reports (which are not currently posted) and allow each district the option to post these documents on its own website or to provide a link to those reports on the DPI website (in lieu of posting them on the district’s own website).

In our view, this would be a cheaper and easier way to provide the public with this information. Linking from a district’s website to the DPI website would ensure that only audited reports are viewed by the public and would also ensure that any comparisons among districts would be based on the most accurate information available.

The School Administrators Alliance also spoke in opposition to the bill as drafted.