What Can School Districts Do to Visualize Complex Financial Data for Stakeholders?

District financial data can be complex and confusing even for individuals familiar with school systems; therefore, it is important that data be presented and shared in ways that all stakeholders can easily understand. Using appropriate data visualization and summarization approaches can help ensure that stakeholders have an accurate and informative view of district financial data. Some data visualization approaches used by districts across the United States include representing expenditure and other budget data in the following formats:

Pie graph For example Lee County Schools in Florida
Line graph For example Davis Unified School District in California
Bar graph For example Garland Independent School District in Texas

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 observes that complex data need to be presented in visually clear and compelling ways, including easy-to-read graphs and comparative analyses.

For a transcript of this audio, click here.

For more resources on engaging stakeholders in financial transparency, including strategies and examples, please see:

For an example of how a state or district dashboard can display key financial data in a simple way, please see the Michigan Department of Education’s Financial Dashboard and Reports (click on “Edit Report” to see data for different districts statewide).

To return to the introduction page for this blog series, please click here.

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