Burbio School Tracker 5/8: Checkbook Registers

This week we review 2022-23 enrollments from Pennsylvania, examine school board terms appearing over a one year period, and introduce a market survey of suppliers taken from K-12 checkbooks

Burbio's School Board Meeting Tracker now covers over 50% of U.S. K-12 students.   Click here to receive sample data.

1.  In recent weeks Burbio has been analyzing the frequency of subject mentions in school board meeting minutes.  That analysis has been focused on a single meeting in each district.  We are now starting to gather the monthly history of school board meeting minutes to evaluate whether initiatives are mentioned at all - even once - over the course of the year.  Below is an analysis of the last twelve months of meetings for 43 school districts, all among the largest 200 in the country.  The percentages indicate the percent of districts that mentioned the term at least once in the past year.  The first chart covers widely covered subjects, mentioned in at least 75% of districts:


There are two patterns we currently note from research so far:   

  • Some terms don't appear even twenty percent of the time on a meeting-by-meeting basis but appear on the above chart.  HVAC is a good example; repeated analysis we have done shows HVAC is mentioned in between 15% and 20% of individual school board meetings, but over the course of the year, it appears 75% of the time at least once based on the research noted above.  

  • For more widely used terms, the frequency often spikes dramatically when longer agenda items are dedicated to the subject.  For example, in Austin ISD, the word safety appears 41 times in their September 2022 meeting, and 64 times in October 2022 - far in excess of other meetings.  Fresno, CA, mentions Afterschool a few times in some meetings, then 49 times in February 2023.    For Fulton County, GA, it was "career" that shows up 49 times in one meeting, May 2022.  We see this occurring across all terms and from that information flow there are insights into district decision making. 

In order to break out terms in a more digestible format, we have a second chart of terms mentioned slightly less frequently.   Below is a group of terms that appears at least once across the year in between 48% and 69% of districts:


2.  This week we review Pennsylvania's 2022-23 enrollment announcement.  Below are the locale trends, with the comparison for this year versus last year in yellow.   Overall enrollment increased ever-so-slightly, by 0.075%: 


We were struck by the increase in the city locale so we took a look.  Below are the five largest city districts in Pennsylvania.  Note Philadelphia, by far the largest district in the state and one that had been declining recently, saw a tiny increase in enrollment.   Commonwealth Charter Academy CS, classified as a city district by NCES, is a public, cyber charter school, and has seen double digit increases recently: 


In last week's post we noted that Pre-K enrollment had increased 7.5% nationally after the first 41 states announced 2022/23 enrollments.  Pennsylvania had an increase in Pre-K of over 30%:


3.  Thousands of districts across the U.S. post checkbook registers, or what might also more broadly be referred to as "spending documents," that detail payments to specific vendors and suppliers. Burbio analyzes this data as part of our business intelligence service for partners, and the information set is growing. This week we start our analysis with a look at districts that cover over 28% of K-12 students.  There are districts in the sample from over 40 states.  Below is a chart that shows the most frequently-mentioned vendors in the most recently posted monthly register.  The bulk of these suppliers are distributors of multiple services to school districts: 


There are thousands of vendors who provide services to school districts and receive compensation directly, not through a distributor.  Below is a list of suppliers from our district survey of registers that are primarily corporations or non-profits, with the percent of districts who paid them in the last month noted:


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