In December, UnifiEd launched a campaign for increased public participation and transparency in Hamilton County public schools.After campaigning for 6 months and building a strong community coalition, the Department of Education released its first online, easy to read guide to the school system’s budget.

The Citizens Guide to Understanding the Budget condenses the 250-page budget document to a 12-page easy-to-read booklet with colorful graphics describing where school funding comes from, what it pays for, and how the money is used in the schools. According to school officials, the purpose of the budget guide is to help community members understand the complexities of the school system’s budget in a simple, interactive format.

The budget guide begins by describing how Hamilton County’s Department of Education is funded by the federal, state and local government sources by providing a brief discussion of where revenue from each category comes from. For example, the State funding comes from a 7% sales tax and allocates funding based on the Basic Education Program funding formula.


The guide then moves into a discussion about revenue change and growth since 2009. Here HCDE asserts the portion of funding coming form Hamilton County has decreased by about $134 per student, when adjusted for inflation.


One of the most helpful sections of the guide describes where the expenses for HCDE are focused. They provide a pictogram illustrating how each budget dollar is spent. This reveals 82 cents of every dollar is allocated directly to school based personnel and materials while only 4 cents of every dollar is spent on Central Office support. School Personal, including salaries and benefits, accounts for 81% of the budget ($281 million). Non-Personnel expenditures include costs such as transportation, utilities, maintenance, textbooks, supplies and equipment.


It has been 180 days since we requested our #4simplereforms to the Department of Education and we will continue to campaign for increased transparency in Hamilton County public schools. ClickHERE to learn more about our transparency campaign!
How can you help?

Contact your local school board member and thank them for providing and easy-to-understand guide to the budget and let them you know you support all four of our transparency reforms. School Board Contact Info.

UnifiEd’s 4 Reforms:

  1. Allow for public comment without 3 days notice to address the board.
  2. Make the School Board Agenda available online 7 days before meetings.
  3. Put the budget online in an easy to read format.
  4. Live-Stream all School Board meetings.

Thank you for your support!