How Can School Districts Engage Stakeholders in Financial Transparency?

While parent and family engagement is a longstanding part of school improvement efforts, engaging families and other stakeholders in understanding school budgets and spending has more recently gained attention given the financial transparency requirements in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) (see the introductory blog in this series for more information). With per-pupil expenditures now included in state and local report cards, it is important for districts to consider engagement strategies that can help promote a broad understanding of district finances and financial priorities.

The profile and audio clips below describe how Community Unit School District 300 approaches and prioritizes stakeholder engagement in their financial transparency efforts.

Community Unit School District 300
Community Unit School District 300 is in Algonquin, Illinois (about an hour west of Chicago) and serves just over 20,000 students. To see Community Unity School District’s local report card (including per-pupil expenditures), please download the at-a-glance report from the Illinois State Report Card site here.

Superintendent Fred Heid of Community Unit School District 300 supports using a variety of media and methods to share information with the community, including

  • Allowing virtual attendance at board meetings.
  • Sharing key documents and information with parent and community groups.
  • Sending print materials home with students.

Staff in Community Unit School District 300 also work to engage stakeholders beyond families with students currently in school. In addition to media outreach, Community Unit School District 300 has a community leadership academy in which staff from school buildings across the district learn about school finance to better communicate with the community.

To listen to Superintendent Heid’s strategies for disseminating information around school finances, click the play button below.

To listen to Superintendent Heid’s description of engaging stakeholders beyond current families, click the play button below.

For a transcript of this audio, click here.

For more resources on engaging stakeholders in financial transparency, please see:

Check out the next blog in the series: What Can School Districts Do to Visualize Complex Financial Data for Stakeholders?

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