N.D. school information now available onlineThe North Dakota Policy Council’s Web site “Sunshine on Schools” has seen some big changes, now including all teacher, administrative and professional staff salaries at no cost.
By: Beth Wischmeyer, The Dickinson Press
DICKINSON - The North Dakota Policy Council’s Web site “Sunshine on Schools” has seen some big changes, now including all teacher, administrative and professional staff salaries at no cost.
The data available at the policy council’s Web site www.SunshineonSchools.org was compiled from data that comes directly from the Department of Public Instruction and is public information.
Once visitors have registered their name and e-mail address, they can have access to single school information or multiple school information, organized alphabetically.
Visitors can obtain information from schools across the state, including total enrollment, student-to-teacher ratios, total school revenue, total school debt, teacher and administrator compensation as well as proficiency score comparison; all compared with the state’s averages.
Policy council’s Jacqueline Dotzenrod says the features of the site make it easier for people to access information on not only salary information, but performance information as well.
“On the side of the Web site you can click on ‘single district reports’, which, essentially you can view both financial and performance data from each of the school districts,” Dotzenrod said. “Then you can compare school districts with the state.”
“Sunshine on Schools” was just launched in April, Dotzenrod said, but the updates allowing visitors to see school info is something new, beginning just a few weeks ago.
“With this newest update we just want it out there to spread awareness as school is starting,” Dotzenrod said.
Other tools available to site visitors include the ability to compare one or more school districts.
“Another valuable tool that it has is another box on the right hand side that says ‘report options’,” Dotzenrod said. “You can click on ‘create a district comparison report’, and you can compare school districts.”
State ranking reports and tax levy information is also available through the site, as well as individual teacher or administrator salary information. Visitors can also view the top 100 salaries in the state for teachers or administrators.
Dotzenrod says the new features are important to parents and citizens.
“With property taxes and K-12 education funding in the state being two of the biggest political issues, we hope that this data will shed some light on those issues,” Dotzenrod said. “All of this information is public record, so it’s not just some big secret. We just make it easier for people to access the information.”
N.D. Policy Council Executive Director Brett Narloch says that eventually new features will be added to the site.
“We’re trying to find data on private schools and home-schooled children,” Narloch said. “It’s a little bit harder to come by because it’s private, but we would like to add that at some point, especially because we’ve had a lot of requests for it. We would try to get information on the cost of both, because a lot of people are wondering what private schools cost, and they really want to compare the two.”
Narloch says other information that could be added include a “dollars by the minute” counter, which would turn on when visitors log on to the site and show them how much money was spent in the time they spent on the site. Another avenue Narloch is pursuing is geographical enrollment, showing where and how many children are enrolled in the North Dakota.
“We want to show which geographical areas are gaining enrollment,” Narloch said. “We think that’s interesting because we know districts like West Fargo, Fargo and Bismarck are growing but we don’t know where they are coming from.”
For more information on the North Dakota Policy Council, visit www.policynd.org.