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Frequently Asked Questions ESSA PPE Reporting

Frequently asked questions regarding the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Per-Pupil Expenditure (PPE) reporting requirement.

General Questions

  1. What is the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) per-pupil expenditure (PPE) reporting requirement?

    The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as reauthorized by the ESSA, requires state educational agencies (SEAs) and their local educational agencies (LEAs) to prepare and publish annual report cards that contain specified data elements, including LEA and school-level per-pupil expenditures (PPE). Although California LEAs already collect and report on most of the required report card data elements, including LEA-level expenditures, they are not currently reporting school-level expenditures in the form required by ESSA.

    Specifically, as required by ESEA section 1111(h)(1)(C)(x) and (h)(2)(C), SEAs and LEAs must report “the per-pupil expenditures of Federal, State, and local funds, including actual personnel expenditures and actual nonpersonnel expenditures of Federal, State, and local funds, disaggregated by source of funds, for each local educational agency and each school in the State for the preceding fiscal year.”

  2. Are all LEAs, including charter schools, required to report ESSA PPE data?

    Yes. Per the California Department of Education's (CDE) August 2018 letter, per-pupil expenditures are required to be reported for all county offices of education (COEs) and school districts, all applicable COE and school district schools, and all charter schools.

  3. When are LEAs required to start reporting ESSA PPE data?

    LEAs will report PPE data beginning with expenditure data from the 2018–19 school year, to be used in 2018–19 report cards, and annually thereafter. LEAs will report ESSA PPE data to the CDE via a web-based application. See additional information below, under ESSA PPE Web-based Data Reporting Application.

  4. What is the due date for reporting the 2019–20 ESSA PPE data to the CDE?

    The data is due to CDE by March 1, 2021.

  5. Will LEAs report ESSA PPE data via the School Accountability Report Card (SARC)?

    No. LEAs will not report this data via the SARC. The SARC is a state-required report, and although some federally-required data elements are reported there, the ESSA PPE data is not currently a defined element of the SARC.

  6. How will LEAs report ESSA PPE data to the CDE?

    LEAs will report ESSA PPE data to the CDE via a web-based application. See additional information below, under ESSA PPE Web-based Data Reporting Application.

  7. Where will the ESSA PPE data be published?

    The ESSA PPE data, as well as other report card data, will be published in the CDE’s Local Educational Agency Accountability Report Card (LARC).

  8. Is there guidance available to assist LEAs with the ESSA PPE reporting requirement?

    Yes. On August 1, 2018, the CDE issued a letter to all County and District Superintendents, County and District Chief Business Officers, and Charter School Administrators that provided information and guidance that would assist LEAs with meeting the ESSA PPE reporting requirement.

    In addition, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) issued non-regulatory guidance External link opens in new window or tab. regarding ESSA report cards, which includes per-pupil expenditure reporting guidance. The CDE’s 2018 guidance is consistent with the ED’s guidance.

  9. Does the ESSA PPE information need to be approved by the LEA’s school board?

    There is no provision within the ESSA law requiring a governing board’s approval of the PPE data. However, LEAs may want to develop local policies for presenting this data to their governing boards prior to submitting it to CDE.

  10. Are there any plans to collect the per-pupil expenditure data through the Standardize Account Code Structure (SACS) software?

    No. CDE does not anticipate including the ESSA per-pupil expenditure data collection as part of the SACS software.

  11. Who can I contact with questions concerning ESSA per-pupil expenditure reporting?

    Please email essappe@cde.ca.gov, or call 916-322-1770 with any questions regarding the ESSA per-pupil expenditure reporting. Additionally, you can subscribe to the ESSA per-pupil listserv to receive updates. To join the list, send a blank message to subscribe-essa-ppe@mlist.cde.ca.gov.

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ESSA PPE Web-based Data Reporting Application

  1. How do we access the ESSA PPE data reporting application?

    The California Department of Education (CDE) sends an email to each county and district superintendent and chief business official, and charter school administrator, that provided both the access codes and the reporting application web page. If the information needs to be resent, please request via email to essappe@cde.ca.gov.

  2. Are there data elements already preloaded in the ESSA PPE data reporting application? Can changes be made to this data?

    School enrollment data as reported via the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) Fall 1 submission for the applicable ESSA PPE reporting year is preloaded. These amounts cannot be changed within the application.

  3. How does the LEA enter the data in the ESSA PPE data reporting application?

    There are a few options for providing the PPE data. The school-level PPE data can be manually entered directly in the application or imported via an Excel file. Instructions for creating the Excel file are provided within the reporting application.

  4. How should per-pupil expenditures be reported for single-school school districts – school level, district level, or both?

    Per-pupil expenditure data should be provided for both school level and district level. The total per pupil expenditures should be the same.

  5. What data can be included in the ESSA PPE import file?

    Only the school-level PPE data can be included in the data import file. LEA-level PPE data and total excluded expenditures must be manually input via the application.

  6. Can we re-import or make edits after importing a data file?

    Yes. Multiple files imports can be performed. However, reimporting a file will overwrite the data that was previously imported. After importing a file, edits may be made to the PPE data via the data input screen.

  7. Can we make changes to the data once it is certified and submitted to CDE?

    Yes. If the data needs to be changed once certified, please email essappe@cde.ca.gov. The CDE will decertify the data, allowing the LEA to make the necessary changes. Once the changes to the data have been made, the LEA will need to certify and submit the data again to the CDE.

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Per-pupil Expenditure Calculation

  1. Will the CDE provide a specific methodology for LEAs to calculate their PPE?

    No. The CDE is allowing LEAs flexibility in determining what should be included and excluded from their PPE calculation. Due to the number, size, and unique characteristics of California LEAs, a one-size-fits-all approach would not reflect the needs and circumstances of each LEA and its schools.

  2. Is there a list of SACS codes (e.g., funds, resources, goals, functions, objects) that CDE recommends we include in the calculation?

    No. However, the CDE’s August 2018 letter provides recommendations regarding categories of expenditures that may be included and excluded in the PPE calculation.

  3. What are considered current expenditures?

    Per CDE’s August 2018 letter, current expenditures represent the ongoing, day-to-day operations of schools and LEAs for public elementary and secondary education. They include, but are not limited to, instruction, instructional support, student support services, pupil transportation services, plant maintenance and operations, and general administration.

  4. Should LEAs report actual or budgeted expenditures?

    The law requires actual expenditures to be used in the PPE calculation. CDE expects that LEAs will use unaudited actuals amounts.

  5. What funds should be included in the ESSA PPE calculation?

    Generally, all of an LEA’s funds in which its day-to-day operations are reported should be included, with the exception of those funds, or expenditures reported within those funds, that are determined to be excludable from the PPE calculation. For example, the Adult Education Fund (Fund 11) would be excluded, since adult education expenditures are outside of kindergarten through grade twelve education. Also, we would expect capital outlay expenditures, reported in capital outlay and other funds, to be excluded, since capital outlay expenditures are one-time, significant outlays that may skew the PPE from year to year.

  6. Should deferred maintenance expenditures reported in Fund 14, Deferred Maintenance Fund, be included?

    Deferred maintenance expenditures may be included to the extent they are not in a category of excludable expenditures, e.g., capital outlay. For example, expenditures reported in Function 8100, Plant Maintenance and Operations, and Object 5600, Rentals, Leases, Repairs and Noncapitalized Improvements, may be included. However, expenditures reported in Function 8100, Object 6400, Equipment, are capital outlay and may be excluded. Expenditures reported in Function 8500, Facilities Acquisition and Construction, are also considered capital outlay and may be excluded from the calculation.

  7. How should unrestricted resources be categorized?

    Generally, unrestricted resources should be categorized as state and local sources. However, there are a few federal funding sources that are reported in an unrestricted resource, e.g. Medi-Cal Administrative Activities and Impact Aid. Because certain of these funds are intended to replace state or local sources of revenue, as is the case with Impact Aid, the LEA may decide to categorize the associated expenditures as state and local rather than federal.

  8. Should general administration and school administration expenditures be included?

    Yes. General administration and school administration expenditures are considered current expenditures and should be included in the PPE calculation, again to the extent they are not in a category of excluded expenditures, e.g., capital outlay.

  9. Does CDE have a list of expenditures that are recommended to be excluded from the PPE calculation?

    Yes. The CDE’s August 2018 letter includes a list of recommended expenditure exclusions. These expenditures are either not associated with kindergarten through grade twelve students, such as adult education; or are one-time, significant outlays that may distort PPE, such as facilities acquisition.

  10. Are excluded expenditures deducted before calculating the per-pupil expenditure amounts?

    Yes. Excluded expenditures should be deducted from the pool of expenditures that will be used in the numerator of the per-pupil expenditure calculation.

  11. What are LEA-level per-pupil expenditures?

    LEA-level per-pupil expenditures are total LEA expenditures (less excluded expenditures) divided by the LEA’s total pupil count.

  12. What is the difference between school-level expenditures and central expenditures?

    School-level expenditures are those identified directly to specific schools. Examples include teacher salaries and benefits, site administrative staff, e.g., principal, salaries and benefits, and site discretionary expenditures. School level expenditures are typically associated with instruction, instructional support services, student support services, and school administration activities (functions).

    Central expenditures are those benefiting all of the LEA’s schools and typically cannot be easily identified to specific schools. The level at which these expenditures are tracked will vary between LEAs, depending on LEA policies for identifying expenditures at the school versus central level. Central expenditures are typically associated with general administration, plant maintenance and operations, student transportation, food services, and enterprise activities, but could also be instructional and pupil support activities.

    Central expenditures are allocated to schools using LEA-determined allocation methodologies.

  13. When calculating a school’s share of central expenditures, what should we include and what allocation methodologies should we use?

    Per CDE’s August 2018 letter, LEAs have the flexibility to determine which expenditures are charged directly to the school level versus those expenditures that remain at the central level and are ultimately allocated to individual schools based on a reasonable, consistent allocation methodology. Due to the number, size, and unique characteristics of California LEAs, a one-size-fits-all approach would not reflect the needs and circumstances of each LEA and its schools.

    Below are examples methods for allocating centralized expenditures. Please note, this list is not exhaustive, and LEAs may choose a reasonable methodology that must be detailed in the submission.

    • Per-pupil basis:
      Expenditures for centralized services that benefit all students across all schools can be allocated to schools on a per-pupil basis. As an example, executive office salaries and non-personnel expenditures could be allocated across all LEA schools based on number of students at each school.

    • Per-staff basis:
      Expenditures for centralized services that benefit all staff across the entire organization may be allocated to schools on a per-staff basis. For example, the human resources office expenditures could be allocated to LEA schools based on the number of staff at each school.

    • Selected per-pupil basis:
      For centralized services that benefit a specific sub-section of students, these expenditures can be allocated to schools based on a selected per-pupil basis. For example, for an office that provides services specifically to students with disabilities, these expenditures could be allocated across all LEA schools based on the number of students with disabilities at each school.

    • Per-square foot basis:
      For centralized services that are related to the school facilities, for example maintenance and operations, these expenditures can be allocated to schools based on the square footage of the facility (if the LEA has accurate measurements). For example, a janitorial contract for the entire LEA could be allocated across schools based on the square footage of each school.

    • Per-school basis:
      For centralized services that are related to specific schools, these expenditures can be allocated to a school or a group of schools. For example, if there is a maintenance contract that provides services for two specific high schools, these expenses can be allocated across the two high schools.


    Once methodologies for identifying school-level and central costs have been determined, LEAs should consistently apply that methodology to all of their own schools.

  14. For a single-school school district, should all expenditures be classified as school site, or should central expenditures be separately identified?

    LEAs have the flexibility to determine which approach best reflects how they want to communicate the data. LEAs may want to identify those expenditures that would typically be considered central, e.g., board and superintendent and general administration, and classify those as central expenditures.

  15. Should LEAs use enrollment or average daily attendance (ADA) for their calculation?

    Per the CDE’s August 2018 letter, the CDE recommends using enrollment, although LEAs have the flexibility to use ADA or enrollment. As noted above, enrollment is prepopulated in the ESSA PPE data collection application.

  16. Is the PPE calculation different for a charter school than for a COE or school district?

    No. A charter school must follow the same process as a COE or school district, e.g., determine current expenditures and excluded expenditures, and distinguish between federal and state and local expenditures.

  17. Should private donation funds be included?

    LEAs have the flexibility to determine whether expenditures based on private contributions should be included in the per-pupil expenditure calculation. If included, they would be categorized as state and local expenditures.

  18. Should special one-time restricted funds benefiting one particular site be included?

    LEAs have flexibility in determining which expenditures to exclude if the expenditure could cause the per-pupil expenditure to be misleading. However, over-exclusion of expenditures should be avoided. The CDE recommends including expenditures that meet the definition of a current expenditure.

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Special Education Expenditures

  1. Should special education expenditures be included? If so, should expenditures from all funding sources be included?

    Yes, special education expenditures from all funding sources are included in the LEA and school-level PPE calculations. Special education services are included in current expenditures. Note that the LEA should still determine whether certain categories of special education expenditures, e.g., capital outlay, should be excluded from the calculation.

  2. Do we use general education enrollment per school or special education enrollment to allocate the central special education expenditures to schools?

    LEAs have the flexibility to determine the appropriate allocation methodology. Therefore, an LEA could decide to use special education enrollment to allocate its central special education costs, or another metric that is deemed appropriate by the LEA.

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Preschool and Child Development and Expenditures

  1. Should early education expenditures, such as preschool, be included?

    It is the LEA’s discretion whether to early education expenditures in the PPE calculation. However, note that CALPADS enrollment does not currently include preschool counts. If an LEA were to include early education expenditures, then the associated pupil count should be included in total pupil count that is the denominator of the calculation in order for the PPE to align to the pupils being served.

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Cafeteria Expenditures

  1. Should cafeteria expenditures be included in the PPE calculation?

    The CDE recommends that cafeteria expenditures be included in the PPE calculation.

  2. Should cafeteria expenditures be identified directly to each school, or can they be allocated as central expenditures?

    Per CDE’s August 2018 letter, LEAs have the flexibility to determine which expenditures are identified directly to the school level versus those expenditures that remain at the central level and are ultimately allocated to individual schools based on a reasonable, consistent allocation methodology.

  3. How can cafeteria expenditures be identified as federal versus state and local, since the majority of funding from all sources is reported in one SACS resource code?

    Per feedback from federal staff, LEAs may treat cafeteria expenditures as state and local expenditures. Another approach would be an allocation between federal and state/local expenditures based on the proportion of federal and state/local revenue.

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Questions:   Financial Accountability & Information Services | essappe@cde.ca.gov | 916-322-1770
Last Reviewed: Friday, February 12, 2021
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