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

Montana

C
Scoring
Per Pupil Expenditures 39.00 / 45
Total Expenditure Data 22.50 / 30
Average Salary Data 0.00 / 10
Public Accessibility 12.00 / 15
Total Score 73.50 / 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

Montana’s Office of Public Instruction provides more than ten years of Per Pupil Expenditure Trends by School District reports. The reports contain total per pupil expenditure data. Montana provides a table that allows citizens to easily compare changes in statewide per pupil expenditures over time, though the figures are not adjusted for inflation. Montana is missing the most recent year of per pupil expenditures.

Per Pupil Expenditures
Metric
Category State District Score
Type of Per Pupil Expenditures Total Total
Credit Full Credit Full Credit
Years of Data 10+ years 10+ years
Score 10 / 10 10 / 10 20 / 20
Most Recent Year 2010-11 2010-11
Score 8 / 10 8 / 10 16 / 20
Historical Comparison None None
Score 1.5 / 2.5 1.5 / 2.5 3 / 5
Total 39 / 45

Total Expenditure Data

Montana provides more than ten years of Expenditure Trends Recap reports, which contain total expenditure data, including capital expenditures. Total salary expenditures are available at the summary level only. Employee benefits are included, but not as a line item. Montana is missing the most recent year of expenditures and fails to provide pension data.

Total Expenditure Data
Metric
Category State District Score
Total Expenditures Object / Summary Object / Summary
Score 4 / 4 4 / 4 8 / 8
Capital Expenditures Included Included
Score 2 / 2 2 / 2 4 / 4
Total Salary Data Summary with Benefits* Summary with Benefits*
Score 0.75 / 2 0.75 / 2 1.5 / 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 2 / 2.5 2 / 2.5 4 / 5
Total 22.5 / 30

Average Salary Data

Montana fails to provide any data regarding average employee salaries.

Average Salary Data
Metric
Category State District Score
Categories Covered None None
Score 0 / 1.5 0 / 1.5 0 / 3
Employee Benefits n / a n / a
Score 0 / 1 0 / 1 0 / 2
Years of Data n / a n / a
Score 0 / 1.25 0 / 1.25 0 / 2.5
Most Recent Year n / a n / a
Score 0 / 1.25 0 / 1.25 0 / 2.5
Total 0 / 10

Public Accessibility

Navigation: Montana’s Office of Public Instruction website is difficult for a layperson to navigate. The dropdown menu at the homepage includes links to “Finance & Grants School Finance,” “Reports & Data School Finance (OPICORE) Data,” and “GEMS—Data Warehouse Public Site,” but only the third of these options leads to user-friendly data. The “School Profile Revenue and Expenditure Per ANB” spreadsheets in the “School Finance (OPICORE) Data” page contain a great deal of data but are very difficult for a layperson to interpret. At the GEMS page, the user must select “Public Site” then “Parameter Based Reports” under the “Reports and Data” dropdown box on the upper menu bar. That contains the Per Pupil Expenditure Trends by School District reports and the Expenditure Trends Recap reports.

Ease of Public Analysis: Montana’s financial data are provided in HTML and are exportable as Excel spreadsheets, PDF format and other formats.

Public Accessibility
Category Metric Score
Navigation 2 points: Difficult for a layperson to locate the desired data. Serious design flaws that significantly inhibit navigability. 2 / 5
Ease of Public Analysis Format:  HTML (exportable as PDF, Excel, etc.) 10 / 10
Total 12 /15

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