IB-2010-A (January 2010)
Author: Ben DeGrow
In 2009 the Colorado General Assembly considered Senate Bill 57, legislation that would have greatly increased transparency in financial reporting for school districts, public charter schools and other local education providers. The bill passed the senate but was defeated by the House Education Committee.
Nevertheless, as the technological capabilities for greater transparency at all levels of government have continued to grow, so has public demand. Resulting in part from the public demand for transparency evidenced in the SB 57 debate, Jefferson County R-1 created its own searchable online financial database. While Jeffco, Colorado’s largest school district, has established itself as a national leader in public education
financial transparency, other Colorado school districts also have made progress in posting detailed expenditure information online: Colorado Springs 11, Durango 9-R, Falcon 49 and Greeley-Evans 6.
In addition, Colorado lawmakers have introduced new transparency legislation for consideration in 2010. As proposals are debated and initiatives implemented and upgraded, both state and local policy makers can benefit by understanding the criteria for effective financial transparency. Senate Bill 91 most closely would lead local education providers to achieve those criteria. Although House Bill 1036 would lead providers to post a substantial amount of financial information online, the introduced legislation falls short of ensuring the level of transparency that citizens deserve and that the state’s largest school district already has achieved.