You can now see online how your county school system spent money over the past few fiscal years, thanks to a new tool.
Then click on the county you’re interested in and you’ll be taken to a page where you can see expense and revenue data from fiscal year 2016-17 to last fiscal year. Each fiscal year goes from July 1 to June 30, so each contains one school year.
You’ll first be met by a bar graph showing a broad look at the county school system’s spending — you may quickly notice what a large portion each spends on employees.
But click around and you can see more specifics on that and other spending. You can see, for instance, how much was spent on travel, and you can drill down to which companies were paid what for things like supplies and architectural design.
State Auditor JB McCuskey, whose office sponsors the West Virginia Checkbook website, said the site doesn’t show specific invoices that could reveal things like the quantity of supplies purchased for the dollar figure paid to a company.
But he said the site, which can help people detect odd spending, may help journalists and other members of the public send narrow Freedom of Information Act requests to school systems if they want to get specific documents like invoices.
Skylar Wotring, transparency and oversight manager in the State Auditor’s Office, said “we captured certain data that is not a full picture, but the pertinent information for day-to-day activities and things of that nature.”
“What we did not include was adjusted journal entries, certain IRS withholdings and things like that,” Wotring said.
He also said certain data was hidden to comply with the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
More information on the data limitations is on the website.
McCuskey said “the whole idea behind this is so that the citizens and the media can hold us accountable for our actions.”
This 2019 omnibus education bill, more well-known for legalizing charter schools in West Virginia, required that the state schools superintendent provide the necessary data to the state auditor to make this happen.
State Superintendent Clayton Burch joined McCuskey and other Republican officials Wednesday for the unveiling of the website.