“SchoolWatch” Bill introduced to Give Taxpayers Access to School Spending Data

State Sen. Tracy Pennycuick (R-24) introduced legislation to provide taxpayers easier access to school spending data and increase the transparency of Pennsylvania’s taxpayer-funded schools.

Pennycuick’s measure, Senate Bill 196, would establish a searchable “SchoolWatch” database providing detailed information including receipts, expenses and general fund balances of school districts, charter, cyber charter, and vocational-technical schools. It would not result in any new reporting requirements or costs to public schools.

“Our public schools are collectively spending billions of taxpayer dollars each year, and taxpayers deserve user-friendly access to financial information to see how their dollars are being spent,” Pennycuick said. “With property taxes reaching new highs, I am proud to introduce this measure designed to better inform the public.”

While the Pennsylvania Department of Education has taken steps to add public school fiscal information to School Performance Profiles, which are designed to measure student success, financial data is not readily available in a centralized location with a user-friendly format.

A recent audit of a dozen school districts by the state auditor general found the districts repeatedly raised taxes at higher-than-normal rates – despite having hundreds of millions in extra cash.

“With more eyes on where taxpayer dollars are being spent, ‘SchoolWatch’ can improve fiscally responsible decision-making in school budgets and ensure the highest level of transparency for our hard-working taxpayers,” Pennycuick said.

Senate Bill 196 has been referred to the Senate Education Committee.