San Diego, CA--EDmin’s Rick Wells explained how a Uniform Chart of Accounts (UCOA) transformed Rhode Island school finances when he appeared on a panel Saturday at the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO) conference in Boston.
Rhode Island's UCOA is part of a larger solution used to link comparable, reliable school financial data to other education data. As the panel showcased the methodology, “the audience responded well to how easily the financial data can be ‘sliced and diced’ to focus on key issues that lead to better-informed decisions on school finances,” Wells said.
Panel members from the Rhode Island Department of Education were joined by Wells, who is a consultant to the Department, because he led the designing and structuring of the UCOA and now oversees quality assurance aspects of the annual data. He explained the use of tools such as a comprehensive accounting manual that provides guidance for many common transactions. The new methods helped the state’s school districts develop a consistent way to report financial data.
“Because the districts now have reliable data, they can compare their data with the data from districts of a similar size and type,” Wells said. “Outliers can be identified for improvement.”
Comparable data is essential to decision making. One district superintendent was receiving criticism from the community for a transportation contract they considered expensive. The UCOA data showed how he had been able to use the contract to lower costs until it was one of the least expensive transportation systems in the state.
The data can be used at every decision-making level, Wells added. A superintendent can use the data with a school board to drive educational goals. A district can connect UCOA data to student data to understand how expenditures in various programs are impacting student outcomes.
At the state level, the Department of Education can call on its data warehouse for statewide data on finances, student assessment, teacher professional development and many other areas. (Learn more about the Wells UCOA presentation here.)
The UCOA relies on SchoolNomics™, a methodology that links all costs that benefited students to individual schools in a district. SchoolNomics is used to benchmark every district’s spending on a per-pupil basis. The SchoolNomics methodology was provided by EDmin, a San Diego-based educational software company. Wells is the general manager for SchoolNomics. The effort in Rhode Island began several years ago, when the late lawmaker Paul W. Crowley led an effort to standardize the way in which districts account for expenditures and to provide greater accountability to assist decision-makers at all levels.
For more information on Rhode Island’s UCOA, along with accompanying guides, user codes, and frequently asked questions, visit the Rhode Island Department of Education UCOA page.
SchoolNomics is powered by IN$ITE® and owned by EDmin. The patented process was developed by the international accounting firm, Coopers and Lybrand (now PricewaterhouseCoopers) and has been recognized for “school site reporting prowess” by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
EDmin delivers effective learning solutions to the K-12 marketplace. For 23 years, EDmin has served more than 5 million users in all 50 states and the international market. For more information, please visit http://www.edmin.com.