Cracking the Books: How Well Do State Education Departments Report Public School Spending?

Minnesota

F
Scoring
Per Pupil Expenditures 18.75 / 45
Total Expenditure Data 19.50 / 30
Average Salary Data 7.00 / 10
Public Accessibility 9.50 / 15
Total Score 54.75 / 100

Note: Scores reflect the data provided on each state's education department website as of December 31, 2012. For more information, please see the Grading Criteria section.

Per Pupil Expenditures

Minnesota’s Department of Education provides more than ten years of Financial Profile Reports, which contain statewide and district-level operating per pupil expenditure data, but fail to provide total per pupil expenditures. Minnesota is missing the most recent year of per pupil expenditures. Minnesota provides a table that allows citizens to compare changes in per pupil expenditures over time, though the figures are not adjusted for inflation nor are there any comparisons at the district level.

Per Pupil Expenditures
Metric
Category State District Score
Type of PPE Operating Operating
Credit Half Credit Half Credit
Years of Data 10+ years 10+ years
Score 5 / 10 5 / 10 10 / 20
Most Recent Year 2010-11 2010-11
Score 4 / 10 4 / 10 8 / 20
Historical Comparison Included* None
Score 0.75 / 2.5 0 / 2.5 0.75 / 5
Total 18.75 / 45

Total Expenditure Data

Minnesota provides more than ten years of total expenditure data. Some capital expenditures (building construction and debt service), food service, and community service expenditures are provided as line items that are excluded from total expenditures. Minnesota is missing the most recent year of expenditures and fails to provide pension data or statewide total salary data. Statewide total salary expenditures, including benefits, are available only at the summary level through 2009 in the Expenditures, Revenues, Fund Balances and Student-Teacher Ratios, 1997–2009, report.

Total Expenditure Data
Metric
Category State District Score
Total Expenditures Object / Summary Object / Summary
Score 4 / 4 4 / 4 8 / 8
Capital Expenditures Seperate Seperate
Score 1 / 2 1 / 2 2 / 4
Total Salary Data Summary with Benefits None
Score 1 / 2 0 / 2 1 / 4
Pension Data None None
Score 0 / 2 0 / 2 0 / 4
Years of Data 10+ years 10+ years
Score 2.5 / 2.5 2.5 / 2.5 5 / 5
Most Recent Year 2010-11* 2010-11
Score 1.5 / 2.5 2 / 2.5 3.5 / 5
Total 19.5 / 30

Average Salary Data

Minnesota provides more than five years of average salary data for teachers and administrators only through the 2011–12 school year. Data on average employee benefits are not provided.

Average Salary Data
Metric
Category State District Score
Categories Covered Teachers and administrators Teachers and administrators
Score 1 / 1.5 1 / 1.5 2 / 3
Employee Benefits None None
Score 0 / 1 0 / 1 0 / 2
Years of Data 5+ years 5+ years
Score 1.25 / 1.25 1.25 / 1.25 2.5 / 2.5
Most Recent Year 2011–12 2011–12
Score 1.25 / 1.25 1.25 / 1.25 2.5 / 2.5
Total 7 / 10

Public Accessibility

Navigation: Minnesota’s Department of Education website is somewhat difficult to navigate. The menu bar on the homepage contains a link to “Data Reports and Analytics” in the dropdown box under the “Data Center” heading. Links to all relevant reports are on this page. Most expenditure data are contained in the Financial Profile Reports, which are divided into two links, “Thru 2010” and “2011+”. In order access the more recent reports, the user must download a servlet and then reopen it in their internet browser. Total salary data are found in the “Financial Trends” link in the Expenditures, Revenues, Fund Balances and Student-Teacher Ratios, 1997–2009, report, which is accessed by clicking the “List Files” button. There are numerous other financial reports which contain some overlapping data, such as the Consolidated Financial Report, Expenditures—District/Site Level Report, Minnesota Funding Reports, Minnesota Funding Reports for County Auditors, and so forth.

Ease of Public Analysis: Minnesota’s financial data are not consistently formatted. Most of the pre-2011 reports are provided in Excel spreadsheets only, which limits the readability of the data. More recent reports are provided in HTML format only, which limits the ability of users to analyze the data. The reports occasionally contain jargon that might confuse a layperson, such as “Expenditure Per Average Daily Membership (ADM) Served” rather than “per pupil expenditures.”

Public Accessibility
Category Metric Score
Navigation 3 points: Somewhat difficult for a layperson to locate the desired data. Moderate design flaws that somewhat inhibit navigability. 3 / 5
Ease of Public Analysis

Format: (minus 2.5 points)
2011 and later: HTML only
Through 2010: Excel spreadsheets only

Deductions for: Use of jargon that the public cannot be reasonably expected to understand (minus 1 point)

6.5 / 10
Total 9.5 /15

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