PARCA Rolls Out Financial Analysis Software to Aid Birmingham City Schools
Birmingham City Schools are now using new software designed by PARCA that cuts through the clutter of school financial data and enables school officials to produce timely and targeted information for decision makers.
The development of the software began three years ago thanks to a grant made by PARCA board member Ruffner Page. The PARCA-developed tool imports data produced by the standard accounting system used by schools across the state.
Money flows into school systems from a variety of sources and often that money can only be spent for specific purposes.
A complex accounting system follows that money but the complexities of its inflows and outflows make it difficult to understand and budget effectively. Imported into PARCA's software, the school financial data is far more accessible for analysis and reporting.
By making choices in a series of drop-down menus, a user can zero in on particular categories of expenditure, like electricity or kindergarten instruction for instance. Those costs can be examined on a comparative basis across all schools or for a custom list of schools. Depending on the expenditure in question, cost could be calculated on a per student, per employee, or per square-foot basis. The new system should enable school officials to better monitor current spending and also to track trends in spending over time.
PARCA is continuing to work with the Birmingham system to devise regular reports that answer to the needs of administrators and board members. The new system should also make it much easier to produce special reports in response to specific inquiries.
Birmingham City School board member Brian Giattina, an alumnus of the PARCA Roundtable, has been a leading supporter of the development of the new system. He believes it can give the Birmingham Board toward a much clearer, fact-based analysis of state of the school system.
"The board is trying to become data-driven," Giattina said. "This should be a powerful tool for the Board."