MCPS to Launch New Data Portal with Budget Information

MCPS to Launch New Data Portal with Budget Information

Public school system to use a platform similar to Montgomery County's budget website

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Graphic: The county's budget website includes the total operating budget of the school system, but does not provide a more detailed break-down. School officials plan to launch a portal in January to provide the public with tools to examine its operating budget.

Update – Tuesday 9:20 a.m. – In an attempt to make public school data more user-friendly and available to the public, Montgomery County Public Schools announced last week it plans to launch a data portal where it will post a break-down of its operating budget and other information.

MCPS plans to launch the new website in January. The site will offer the superintendent’s recommended budget as well as enrollment data and school boundary information.

The move comes as officials and members of the public questioned why the MCPS budget was not included in a new online data portal launched by the county in July. That portal allows users to access county government budget data to see how much funding specific agencies receive and what they spend it on.

Dana Tofig, MCPS spokesman, said in an email Tuesday the county didn't invite the school system to participate in the portal until shortly before it first launched and that because its budget is very different than the county's they weren't able to make it fit into the categories used by the county portal. 

"It would take some time and that is why we weren't part of it when it launched–not a lack of will," Tofig said, in the email.

The school system’s budget accounts for more than 40 percent of the county’s overall budget and is expected to total close to $2.4 billion next year.

“MCPS already shares a tremendous amount of data and information with the public, but we don’t always make it available in the most user-friendly way,” MCPS Superintendent Joshua Starr said in a statement. “This new portal will make it easier for the public to find the information they are looking for and provide tools so they can interact with it in a thoroughly 21st-century manner.”

School officials plan to release more information about the portal when it goes live in January. Tofig said the school system is working with Socrata, the Seattle-based tech firm that designed the county’s budgetMontgomery website, to design the data portal.

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