Easy-to-Use Reporting System Demystifies District Spending
Want to know how Cincinnati Public Schools spends your tax dollars? Take a look at CPS through OpenGov, a financial reporting platform that improves transparency and increases access to district spending and budgeting information.
OpenGov Smart Government Cloud allows interested viewers to use a Google-style search bar to track CPS' spending. It also makes it easier for the district to share complex financial and performance data in simple, understandable reports, and enables more transparent operations and informed decision-making.
(No registration or signing-in required)
OpenGov makes it easier for the community and CPS staff to analyze how the district’s money is spent. The user-friendly platform also allows CPS administrators to share key data across departments to more easily engage stakeholders as the school district’s budget is shaped. In addition, viewers can download data from OpenGov to review.
“We’re pleased to offer OpenGov to our community as a window into Cincinnati Public Schools’ financial side,” said Jennifer Wagner, CPS’ Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer. “Our goal is to be open and transparent in how we operate and how we spend taxpayers’ money, and OpenGov is an easy-access tool to help us do that. To assist in the navigation of the OpenGov site, we have compiled a glossary of commonly used Ohio school finance terms.”
Below are topics of interest to many taxpayers. Click on the questions to go directly to the answers in OpenGov:
Education is a service-based industry, so the largest portion of CPS' expenditures goes to employees' salaries and benefits. Transfers to the schoolwide pool program have been excluded from this graph to more appropriately represent spending.
CPS' two main sources of revenue are local real estate taxes and state foundation payments. CPS receives local real estate settlement payments twice a year from the Hamilton County auditor. State foundation payments are made twice a month. Documentation for state foundation payments Additionally, CPS receives funds from federal grants, primarily from Title I, which provides money to schools with high numbers of students from low-income families.
The revenue section of the Ohio Department of Education annual report card excludes certain types of revenue that are included in the report above.
Pass-through payments are expenditures to reimburse other educational agencies for services given to students who live within the boundaries of the paying school district. These payments include: Community (charter) school deductions, open enrollment deductions, and tuition paid to other school districts or private schools.
CPS is required to provide services for students with disabilities based on the needs outlined in a student's Individual Education Plan (IEP). Services for students with disabilities are determined by the child's IEP team, which includes the parent, teacher, district representative and an intervention specialist. These services are delivered in the child's least-restrictive environment, which also is determined by the child's IEP team.
The least restrictive environment varies for each child, and CPS must ensure that, to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities (including children in public or non-public institutions or other care facilities), are educated with children who are non-disabled. Special classes, separate schooling or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only if the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. CPS must ensure a continuum of alternative placements is available to meet the needs of children with disabilities for special education and related services. This continuum includes regular classes, special classes, special schools, home instruction, and instruction in hospitals and institutions.
The district spends money on non-public (private) school students in two ways: Auxiliary Services and transportation.
Auxiliary Services is a program authorized by Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 3317.06 and 3317.024, which provides funds to the public school district where the non-public school is located on a per-pupil basis. CPS, upon request from the non-public school, provides textbooks; diagnostic, therapeutic and remedial personnel services; and educational equipment.
CPS is required to provide to resident students who attend private or charter schools the same level of bus-transportation service that is provided to students attending CPS schools.
The district receives payments three times a year from the State of Ohio, which are used to provide supplies and services to 45 auxiliary schools within the Cincinnati Public School District. Allowable uses of auxiliary funds
CPS categorizes extracurricular activities into four groups: Sports oriented, academic oriented, school and public service oriented, and occupation oriented.
Revenue and expenditures for the Food Services Department are recorded in a specific fund outside CPS' General Fund, and the revenue is used solely to provide food to students and staff. This includes preparing, serving, and delivering regular and incidental meals, lunches or snacks in connection with school activities.
The largest expenditure for CPS' Transportation Department is vehicle operation, which is classified into five categories: regular students, students with disabilities, students attending a community (charter) school, students attending a non-public (private) school, and bus service for extracurricular activities. How many students CPS transports each year.
Many expenses that the district incurs are districtwide, or centrally managed, including administrative costs, utilities, debt payments, etc. All other expenses are recorded to individual buildings.
CPS operates school buildings that house only elementary grades (K-6 or K-8), only high school grades (7-12), or a combination of both elementary and high school grades (K-12). CPS also has buildings dedicated to preschool classes only. (Preschool classes also are offered at most elementary schools.)
Questions about OpenGov?
Contact Brittany Marks, CPS' Director of Financial Reporting and Transparency