Accessible data holds people and agencies accountable. That’s why when a New Mexico state senator realized some schools in the state were receiving inadequate budget increases, he introduced a bill, SB96, to mandate transparency in school funding. The New Mexico state legislature passed SB96 in 2020.
The law required a reporting system that would compare school revenue, budget, and spending data across the state. The bill was introduced as a way to ensure that lower-income schools and programs for at-risk students, special educations, and bilingual/multilingual education were getting their fair share. To keep themselves and school districts accountable, the legislature wanted to make this information accessible to the public.
RESPEC had the system and expertise New Mexico needed. For nearly 20 years, RESPEC has operated and maintained the Operating Budget Maintenance System (OBMS), where schools submit their annual budgets, tracking expenses, and future expenditures to the New Mexico Public Education Department. After SB96 passed, our DTS Maintenance & Operations (M&O) team enhanced the OBMS database to accommodate the new reporting system.
To create the reporting system, Jennifer Vilches used Google Looker to build a website and dashboard that connects with OBMS and displays the data. She built easy-to-read visualization tools, such as maps, pie charts, line and bar graphs, tables, and heat maps, that the public could use to navigate the database.
The website went live on December 31, 2021. Now parents, teachers, and administrators can use these tools to compare funding across districts, schools, and programs. Users can filter and download different data, from school types and locations to grade levels and sizes. The dashboard also provides special emphasis on support for at-risk students, bilingual services, and special education services.