By Elysse James
Have you ever wondered what CUSD is spending on field trips? How about on textbooks?
That information and so much more is available through the district’s Financial Transparency portal, a little-known resource that Capistrano Unified School District has provided to the public since 2017.
The online portal, provided through a partnership with OpenGov, presents the District’s revenues and expenses including historical trends, Community Facilities District (Mello-Roos) funds and line item details.
“Transparency and honesty are important to us at CUSD. We want all students, families, and community leaders to have access to the District’s finances, budget, and revenue and expenditures,” said Supt. Kirsten Vital Brulte.
The Financial Transparency portal allows users to explore current and historical finances, analyze revenue, expenses, and balance sheet financial data, and each chart and graph are interactive and sharable. Users can also review expenditures from current and historical special tax districts, known as Community Facilities Districts or CFDs and see everything that was paid for using those funds. The CFDs are audited annually.
The portal provides details all aspects of the district’s finances, including:
- Budget categories such as salaries, employee benefits, services, supplies, and more;
- Revenue including federal and state sources as well as the Local Control Funding Formula;
- How much of the district’s revenue is funded by the lottery;
- Pandemic-related and CARES Act funding;
- and a Facilities Master Plan with colorful bubbles that show the age of each school, the areas with the greatest need for updates, and the expected costs.
Under the “Help” link in the top right corner of the website, users can see a Multi-Fund Accounting 101 guide that gives an easy-to-understand breakdown of school funding.
Those who want to dig even deeper can visit the state’s Education Data Partnership website, which gives information on every district in California, along with the ability to compare districts.
“This is like uber transparency,” said Clark Hampton, Deputy Superintendent, Business and Support Services for CUSD. “If someone were to dig into this and call us if they had a question we could answer it easily.”
Hampton added that while the Transparency Portal is a graphical and interactive way to learn about the District’s expenditures, the community can also review the District’s current and historical budget as well as independent audit reports at the following link: District Budgets, Audits and Other Financial Documents.