Program Cost Analysis
School Districts are encountering growing demands by school board members,
school administrators, legislators, special interest groups and the public, to
provide information that demonstrates effective cost management and provides
transparency and accountability. These demands go beyond the reporting
capabilities of their traditional financial systems using the basic
classifications of fund, function and object. They require full cost accounting
procedures that determine the cost of program services offered by School
Districts and establish a comparison base to measure improvements and changes.
The Department of Education (NECS) publication of
Financial Accounting for Local and State school systems details out the need
and an approach for full program costing.
(To read more about the approach, see charter 7 of the publication at
A Solution with Endless Cost Analysis Capabilities
Working with several Texas school districts, MindSphere
Technology Group has developed a "Program Cost Analysis" (PCA) software that
brings a new perspective in understanding District’s costs. The software uses
the activity based costing approach, an accounting method suggested by the
Department of Education as referenced in the publication above. This method is
widely used in the private sector to identify the cost of products and
services. It provides an insight to the direct and indirect costs for
delivering specific educational services down to a level of a single seat of a
class within a campus. The following illustrates examples of cost elements for
direct and indirect costs.
Examples of Cost Elements Applied to Class Sections
|Instructional time and planning time
|Specific supplies or equipment
Campus support - principal, librarian, custodian, extra support duties
District support - business office personnel
Campus – supplies, textbooks
District – supplies, maintenance, professional services for tax collector and legal expenses
Once the full cost is determined at the class section
level for both budgeted and actual expenditures, it can then be aggregated to
many different reporting levels (e.g., course, subject, program, school years,
fund, object, organization, program intent). Additional cost data such as
average cost per seat and direct-to-indirect cost ratio are also be derived.
Standard costing (based on average daily and hourly rate) is also available for
Based on your district's cost objectives, PCA can
provide you with endless capabilities to analyze, compare, and report cost of
services at different levels. Using this powerful software, the district can
apply better cost containment measures and anticipate future costs.
Understanding how expenditures are allocated to your educational services is
generally the first step in developing plans to improve your organization’s
Program Cost Analysis enables you to:
Establish the "true cost" of every class or instructional program (e.g. Foreign
Language) for all campuses, based on the campus where the teaching services are
Provide for an objective cost approach to justifying the continuation or
elimination of a program or class.
Analyze in detail the direct and indirect costs associated with any class,
subject or program.
Compare the cost of classes and programs across campuses or across school years
for trend analysis.
Perform budget and actual analysis across campuses, programs and/or school
- Evaluate class sizes and compare class utilization and costs across campuses.
Evaluate the utilization of personnel based on master schedule information to
provide in-depth reporting of personnel that are under and over utilized.
- Compare the utilization of support personnel across campuses.
Evaluate personnel compensation and strengthen the management of stipends and
Analyze the district budget by fund, function, object, organization, program
intent or by any way your district uses the accounting string.
Determine cost allocation and reporting rules that fit the specific situations
of your district.
Integrate data from personnel, payroll, financial and scheduling systems and
identify exceptions for data quality improvements.
Automatically load data from your source systems and maintain data for
different key dates (e.g. PEIMS submission dates, end of semester) within a
school year and across school years.
Analysis and Reporting
MindSphere’s K-12 Solution includes the following
modules that may be configured to meet your specific needs for analysis,
reporting and monitoring.
PCA comes with a customizable user-friendly web based portal (Information
Center). The Information Center contains many features that are designed to
give the user rapid access to a unified and consistent view of the business
data for analysis and reporting. Key features of the Information Center are:
A powerful and intuitive analysis component with rich
data-navigation features that provides the user with the flexibility to select,
filter and group data. User may select to display information through a chart,
which contain rich charting capabilities allowing the user to select chart
types, size/sort/rank results, and drill-down on any portion of the chart to
display more detail information. User may also display information through a
table view with the ability to sort, drill-down and interactively change
reporting data elements from the column header.
A library of over 100 pre-defined reports templates are available in Adobe PDF
format. Reports are grouped by data domains for easy reference and viewing.
These reports can be viewed with a single mouse "click" or can be easily
modified by the user to include/exclude data through a simplified data
A user-friendly data access and reporting feature that enables a non-technical
user to define and create report queries on an ad-hoc basis. It supports up to
16 columns and 3 levels of data groupings. Queries may also be saved for future
viewing or may be shared with other users or a group of users defined to a
role. The results of a query may also be formatted with user-defined headings
and printed in an Adobe PDF format.
An automatic notification feature that lets you know when events or thresholds
arise. Alerts proactively monitor data sources, based on user-defined
parameters, and deliver essential easy to understand information.
Contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help you today!