Afton partners with an education data warehousing and visualization company to help school systems better understand the connection between spending and academic outcomes
Afton was engaged by Oakland, CA-based Schoolzilla to assist in the rollout one of its new products, which offers schools and school systems the ability to visualize financial data in ways that inform smarter resource allocation decisions.. Afton is responsible for identifying key data inputs, collaborating with district customers on data validation and integration, and identifying and creating informative financial reporting. Among the many eventual uses of this system will be school-level spending reporting, in alignment with the recent ESSA legislation.
Fiscal transparency can foster important equity discussions. Transparency is the fiscal buzzword coming out of the latest sweeping education reform law: Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA. Financial reporting requirements outlined by the law are strict, demanding districts report spending by both source of funds and school locations within the district, with the hope that transparency translates to equity in a K-12 environment dominated by local control.
While ESSA brings new compliance requirements, these requirements will be valuable for school system decision making. The financial reporting component of the law addresses an area of public education which hasn’t had an overhaul in decades and lags far behind changes in pedagogy most often discussed in the public domain. With sweeping overhaul comes increased reporting hurdles. Afton’s goal in this work with Schoolzilla is to create a tool that informs better decision making within school systems, while also enabling school systems to address the ESSA reporting requirements.
Alleviating administrative and capacity obstacles associated with smart school system reporting can create a new level of fiscal transparency. Afton believes firmly in transparency in public education—it is a cornerstone of a properly functioning public entity that seeks to build trust with community members; but building these relationships shouldn’t come at the expense of schools’ core mission, which is to educate students. With Schoolzilla bringing the latest software to finance departments nationwide, Afton believes that fiscal transparency can simultaneously improve operational efficiency by using technology to automate time-consuming rote tasks.