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GASB releases taxpayer guide to public school financial reporting

The Governmental Accounting Standards Board has released a guide to help taxpa

The general public is about to get an education in financial reporting from the Governmental Accounting Standards Board. The agency is issuing a user guide to help taxpayers decipher the financial statements from local school districts.

The guide is geared not just toward parents, but teachers and school officials who may not be familiar with the accounting and reporting practices of public schools. Entitled "What You Should Know about Your School District’s Finances: A Guide to Financial Statements," the guide features numerous examples of school district financial reports complete with annotations and explanations, a primer on the tools of financial analysis and a glossary of terms to help readers better understand the accounting and reporting concepts.

“Like other governments, school districts take special care to demonstrate that they are accountable to the public for keeping track of what money is collected and how it is spent,” said GASB Chairman Robert Attmore. “The guide shows how valuable school district financial information is when participating in a variety of important decisions, such as allocating budget resources among programs; choosing where to send a child to school, buy a house, or locate a business; voting in a school board election or on a district’s annual budget; or buying a school district’s bonds.”

By better understanding a school district's finances, taxpayers can get a better feel for the nuances of fixing a broken school system. In California, for example, educational policy analysts say the state's K-12 system of governance is in disrepair and strong financial support could help fix it, according to Education Week.