How to prepare for the ESSA financial transparency mandate


By David Torres for Forecast5Analytics, an ACSA Partner4Purpose

Beginning with the 2018-2019 school year, all states and local educational agencies (LEAs) will be required to report per-pupil expenditure data at the school level as mandated by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The new ESSA financial requirements include reporting money spent on staff compared with other expenses at the school - and the proportionate levels of federal, state, and local funding at each. ESSA’s overall purpose is to provide clear and transparent information for critical measures on school progress and equity. It empowers LEA leaders to more effectively leverage their school level data and allows for better understanding and improved decision-making for the benefit of the students being served in the districts.

In accordance with the new law, each LEA must report per-pupil expenditures in total and disaggregated by source. For determining the per-pupil expenditures, the numerator of the calculation will consist of current expenditures (including actual personnel costs and non-personnel expenditures of Federal, State, and Local funds used for education). These reported expenditures will generally account for daily operations of schools and LEAs, including - but not limited to - instruction and support, administration, student services, transportation, building operations and maintenance, and other expenditure categories as designated by each respective state agency. Some expenditure categories that do not reflect costs for Pre-K through Grade 12 students being served, may be excluded from the total such as Adult or Community Services, Debt Service, and Capital Outlay for purchases of land, school construction, and equipment (as defined by each state agency). The denominator of the calculation will consist of the aggregate number of students being served and enrolled in preschool through grade 12 for each district.

 Per Pupil School Expenditures

Read Beyond ESSA:  How to Drive Strategic Decisions by Tapping Required Student Data Measurements

Implementation planning

With the forthcoming ESSA reporting requirement, many state agencies have engaged in statewide planning discussions around specific implementation procedures, opportunities, and challenges for meeting the reporting requirement. In the interest of providing support to LEAs for interpreting, communicating, and standardizing reporting, many state agencies have established, or begun developing, guidelines and procedures for dissemination to LEAs.  These address reporting plans and parameters related to student counts, reporting format, expenditure inclusions and exclusions, and special circumstances.

In advance of next year’s reporting period requirements and establishment of state-specific guidelines for completing the reporting requirements, each LEA can begin preparing for the ESSA reporting requirement with a review and assessment of the state and/or district’s data readiness.  The basic framework areas to review are:

 ESSA Reporting Features

The format of the final report will be determined by each state agency. In the meantime, each district or LEA should assess if they are ready for these updated requirements by considering the following questions.  


What is the ESSA reporting solution?

Forecast5 Analytics is a proven national provider of software analytic solutions to school districts.  In anticipation of the financial reporting requirement, Forecast5 is positioned to be an efficient ESSA reporting solution with 5Cast Plus. 5Cast Plus is the quantitative analysis and financial projection engine used to assist decision-making processes for current-year projection analysis.

The program offers an easy-to-use tool that outputs Excel spreadsheets that comply with the ESSA reporting requirements. Because 5Cast Plus accommodates monthly uploads of revenue and expenditure actuals, the data already exists in the system. The General Ledger detail (account code) is easily disaggregated in 5Cast and 5Cast Plus by client specific account code mapping hierarchy. This allows for the General Ledger detail to be disaggregated for real-time spending analysis by Funds, Functions, Object Details, Locations, and Fund Source.  From this, a preliminary review of ESSA report results is possible in minutes.

5Cast ESSA Screenshot

The ESSA report Excel template provides for:

  • Time savings
  • Enrollment input
  • Source designation
  • Allocation method Input
  • Allocation method assignment
  • Summary to validate general ledger totals

Experienced educational financial advisors provide:

  • Access to general ledger detail (account code) through 5Cast Plus
  • Knowledge of applicable state reporting guidance for meeting prescribed ESSA reporting requirements
  • Knowledge of applicable state chart of accounts and mapping hierarchy
  • Familiarity with various accounting systems to help leaders plan, monitor, and evaluate spending
  • 5Cast ESSA report Excel template reviewed with respective state Department of Education (DOE) and Association of School Board Officials (ASBO) affiliates

For information regarding 5Cast Plus and ESSA requirements, contact your 5Cast Advisor or Sales Executive – or email

You can find more information about ESSA here and keep up to date on ACSA Advocacy efforts here.

Join us on November 8-10 in San Diego for ACSA’s annual Leadership Summit, a world-class premier professional development event. The Summit is a gathering of educators at all levels of administration in celebration of the profession. For 2.5 days, this event provides opportunities for invaluable networking, offering professional development on current critical leadership and educational issues.

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