With Jeffco in Front, Colorado Can Lead on School Financial Transparency

Update: House Bill 1036 passed unanimously out of the House Education Committee this afternoon. Ben’s report and testimony added some important information and perspective to the discussion. Now the legislation heads to the floor of the lower chamber for a full 65-member vote. Stay tuned as I continue to cover the two school transparency bills as they move through the legislature.

Many months ago, after a heated debate at last year’s legislative session, I pointed out that opponents of public school financial transparency were running out of excuses.

Well, I’m proud to say that several school districts in Colorado have received the message, and at least one has done a remarkable job of making user-friendly detailed spending information available. I’m talking about Jefferson County Public Schools, the state’s largest school district. You really have to check out their online searchable spending database.

My Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow explains some more about where Jeffco’s idea came from and how much it cost, etc., in his new issue backgrounder “What Should School District Financial Transparency Look Like?” One key advantage has been to build greater trust with members of the community, by providing key details to each spending transaction. It can be a daunting step, so kudos to Jeffco.

The paper also discusses two separate bills that the Colorado state legislature will consider this session: House Bill 1036 and Senate Bill 91. In fact, HB 1036 is scheduled to be heard by the House Education Committee this afternoon. Listen in to room HCR 0112 from here.

With Jeffco leading the way, here’s hoping more Colorado school districts not only get on board the financial transparency train but also do so in a way that is effective, user-friendly, detailed and truly builds trust with local citizens. Our state already is shaping up to be a national leader in this area, and is set to go even further.