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Legislative and Oversight

Legislative and Oversight Bodies At the local level, school administrators rely on financial information to evaluate past performance, aid in day-to-day decisionmaking, and keep the general public informed. Program coordinators, in particular, but also classroom teachers and noninstructional employees, use financial information to plan budgets and to request additional funding or redirect existing funds. Financial information embedded in a comprehensive education information system also allows administrators to assess the areas of greatest need and plan how best to allocate resources. In addition, the local school board is responsible for establishing policies and for overseeing and appraising administrators as they carry out these policies. Thus, the board needs timely information about situations that may need corrective action as well as information with which to judge administrators’ efficiency and effectiveness. Some of this information can be provided by general-purpose financial reports, but comparable information about other school districts is needed as a basis for a more informed comparison. Other units of government also rely on information for policy direction. On average, the U.S. Congress and state legislatures provide about half of the resources for the operation of school districts. Thus, governance units need information on school districts’ operations to decide how 11 to commit resources as well as comparable information about groups of school districts in order to formulate funding policies. To this end, legislators are interested in data that can show • the ways in which local, state, and federal programs interact within specific operational areas; • profiles of school finance structures as they relate to tax resources; and • the impact (and cost) of programs resulting from specific legislative initiatives. Thus, the defining characteristics of an accounting and data reporting system of interest to state and federal legislators are comparability of data, the ability to classify data in a variety of ways, and timeliness in reporting.