The District Financial Transparency Dashboard provides quick, easy access to metrics that help show how a district is performing financially. Metrics are shown for the most recent five years, along with a spark line showing the five-year trend.
It’s important to note that low quartile values or weak financial indicator scores don’t always signify a problem. There may be circumstances that explain the situation. For example, a district may have planned capital expenditures (e.g., facility improvements, purchases of new buses, etc.). However, the potential for risk increases with the number of weak indicator values and/or low quartiles and how they trend over time.
Unless otherwise noted, financial indicators are calculated using the district’s General Fund. Districts use the General Fund for all activities not assigned to a specific purpose. An example of a specific purpose would be a district’s food services program, which is supported by the School Lunch Fund. Since most of a district’s financial activities involve the General Fund, it is the best indicator of the district’s fiscal health.
The report is updated in early winter. See the Recently Posted Reports page for when the report was last updated.
Use the Location and Report Settings to select a location.
Financial Indicators can be toggled between Values and Quartile. (See About the Data for more information on Quartiles.)
See the MI School Data Quick Start Guide for the basics of navigating the site and customizing a report.
Locations Setting options: ISD and District
CEPI collected the data used to compile this report using the Financial Information Database. Details about the FID can be found on the FID web page.
Financial statements of school districts in Michigan are prepared in conformity with U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles for government units. These accounting rules used to prepare, present, and report financial statements are established by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board.
The Michigan Public School Accounting Manual serves as the guide to uniform classification and recording of accounting transactions for public school districts. Refer to the manual for a better understanding of the classifications, categories and definitions used by districts and found in this report. The Appendix - Definition of Account Codes is a useful reference.
Quartile Calculations: Quartiles represent how districts compare statewide with other districts by percentage. Toggling the Financial Indicators from Values to Quartile displays a longitudinal view of which quartile a district was placed by financial indicator for each year.
- Top Two Quartiles: The district was in the top 50 percent statewide for a particular metric. Top Two quartiles are represented by the color green on the dashboard.
- Middle Quartile: The district was in the 25 to 50 percent range statewide. Represented by the color yellow.
- Bottom Quartile: The district was in the bottom 25 percent statewide. Represented by the color pink.
If you have questions not addressed here or in the linked resources, please contact CEPI customer support at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See the Glossary for additional terms and acronyms used on MI School Data.
Current Ratio: This indicator displays the entity’s current assets divided by liabilities. This ratio assesses a district’s ability to pay back its current liabilities using its current assets. The higher the ratio, the better position a district is in to pay back debt.
Fund Balance Change: The percentage, positive or negative, that the total general fund balance for the selected entity changed from the previous year. A negative trend indicates a growing weakness in the ability to cover day to day obligations if revenues decrease or expenses increased unexpectedly.
Operating Margin: The operating margin ratio answers the question, what portion of a district’s income is left over after paying expenses such as wages and supplies. The ratio is calculated by subtracting the district’s general fund expenditures from its revenues and dividing that result by the revenue. If the result is greater than zero, the district’s income exceeded costs for the year. The greater the result is from zero, the greater the margin. If the result is less than zero, the district’s costs exceeded its income for the year, indicating a fiscal risk.
Debt Service Coverage Ratio: Debt service is the amount of principal and interest a district must pay each year on long-term debt plus the interest it must pay on direct short-term debt. The debt service coverage ratio answers the question, how susceptible is a district to not having the ability to pay off their debt. As debt service increases, it adds to a district’s obligations and reduces its expenditure flexibility. This metric is calculated by dividing the reported debt service by the district’s revenue for the General, Special Revenue and Debt Service Funds. A high debt service coverage ratio may indicate a district that has taken on too much debt. It may also indicate that the district has taken an aggressive approach to debt repayment and is paying down their debt quickly. Similarly, a low debt service coverage ratio could indicate a district is strong financially and can finance most capital projects through their operating budget. It may also indicate that a district is financially weaker and has deferred capital projects and allowed important infrastructure to deteriorate.
Days Cash on Hand: How many days the district could operate if no additional funds were received before requiring borrowed funds. The indicator is calculated by dividing cash and investments by cash expenses per day. The greater the result is from zero, the greater the district’s ability to withstand unplanned costs.
Fund Balance as Percent of Revenue: How much a district is saving as a portion of what they are earning. A fund balance is created or increased when fund assets are greater than its liabilities for the school year. A positive fund balance represents the financial resources available to support future district operations. Maintaining an adequate fund balance allows a district to meet day-to-day obligations and adjust for sudden decreases in revenue or unexpected costs. The ratio is calculated by dividing fund balance (assets – liabilities) by general fund revenues. The greater the result is from zero, the greater the district has in reserve to cover costs.
Fund Balance as Percent of Expenditures: How much the district maintains in reserve to cover the costs of running the district. The ratio is calculated by dividing fund balance (assets – liabilities) by general fund expenditures. The greater the result is from zero, the greater the district has in reserve to cover costs.
Revenue/Expenditure Ratio: This ratio shows if a district’s spending was more than its income. The ratio is calculated by dividing the total revenue by total expenditures. Generally, the higher the value, the more that income exceeded spending. This indicator is shown as a three-year average of the ratio.
Enrollment Trend: The enrollment trend displays whether total student enrollment has increased or decreased over time. This is important because district revenue is based upon total student enrollment. The more students a district has, the greater its revenue base. This metric is based upon pupil FTE, not head count.
Compensation Costs per Staff FTE: By percent, this indicator displays compensation per staff person and whether staff compensation per person is trending up or down over the last five years. Compensation is determined by adding salaries and benefits.
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