Examining Individual School Districts Expenditures for Operations and Maintenance and Equipment

School districts operate in an environment where a variety of economic pressures, some in conflict with others, are operating simultaneously.

  • School districts, supported by public funds, are expected to operate efficiently and collect only the local tax revenue they really need.
  • They are expected to anticipate the future and establish reserve funds to protect against hard times.
  • They are expected to expend the necessary funds to maintain an educational program that meets academic standards.
  • They are expected to expend the necessary amounts to maintain a multi-million dollar investment in buildings and grounds.
  • They are expected to accomplish all this despite uncertain economic conditions, changes in the student population and higher standards.

Under any circumstances, determining the overall fiscal health of a school district is a complex task. At this time no single, generally accepted financial indicator exists. Indeed, examining financial information alone is probably an inadequate approach. Factors such as changing property values, student demographics, plans for major capital expenditures and other non-fiscal circumstances may affect a district's financial health. However, an analysis can begin with an examination of trends over time.

This section contains calculated data over a five-year period for two items: Operations and Maintenance expenditures as a percentage of total expenditures and Equipment expenditures as a percentage of total expenditures. These items provide an indication of a district's efforts to establish and maintain a satisfactory physical plant (i.e. buildings and grounds) and to provide the equipment, including information technology, necessary for a modern educational environment. Information is provided for each of the major districts as they existed in the 2010-11 school year. These two items are only two of the many factors that need to be considered in assessing a school district's financial health.

Operations and Maintenance as a Percentage of Total Expenditure

Calculation: (A1620.0 + A1621.0 + F1620.0 + F1621.0 - F1620.8 - F1621.8) / Total Expenditures

This represents the district's efforts to keep buildings and grounds open and ready for use along with maintaining and improving the buildings and grounds where the educational program is provided. The physical plant of even a relatively small school district can represent an investment of several million dollars and annually require several hundred thousand dollars to keep open and ready for use. Failure to adequately maintain this investment may result in high renovation or replacement costs for a district.  In the long run, preventive maintenance is often less expensive than replacement.

Equipment Expenditures as a Percentage of Total Expenditures

Calculation: (all Equipment items (General Fund and Special Aid Fund items ending in .2, .21 and .22) / Total Expenditures

This represents the district's investment in the wide variety of equipment required by a large educational operation. Office machinery, district-owned school buses, maintenance vehicles and classroom information technology are among the items included in this calculation. While there is no generally-accepted standard level of expenditures, a pattern of decreasing investment over several years may indicate neglect of the physical environment. It should be noted that year-to-year changes in this item might be volatile, as investment in equipment can be substantial in a given year. This item does not include inter-fund transfers from the General Fund to the Capital Fund. 

Data Table Word icon(1.93 MB)


Last Updated: November 27, 2012