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California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
March 15, 2024

Dear County and District Superintendents, County and District Chief Business Officials, and Charter School Administrators:

New Federal School Level Finance Survey Reporting Requirement

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as reauthorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), required 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). Since fiscal year (FY) 2018–19, the California Department of Education (CDE) has collected ESSA-PPE data annually from LEAs. To strengthen the data that has been collected via the ESSA-PPE requirements, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) within the U.S. Department of Education (ED), along with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), is implementing a new requirement, the School-Level Finance Survey (SLFS) that will allow for more continuity in reporting data at the school-level so that expenditures can be compared on a local, state, and national level.

The SLFS will be used to provide data to researchers, state and federal agencies, and the public on topics such as resource inequities, correlation at the school and per-pupil level of expenditures across states, how expenditures vary between low and high-income schools, and how spending on different functions affects student outcomes.

Prior to FY 2022–23, participation by states in the SLFS was voluntary. However, the ED has mandated that the SLFS data collection be completed for all 50 states. The SLFS data collection differs from the ESSA-PPE requirement in that it collects financial data in greater detail and does not collect data at a per-pupil level. The CDE anticipates modifying the existing ESSA-PPE data collection system to collect the SLFS data in addition to ESSA-PPE data. After the modifications, the data collection system will be able to separately capture both ESSA-PPE and SLFS data.

The ED has agreed to a phased-in implementation in California to allow time for LEAs to modify local systems to accommodate this new data collection. The table below summarizes the fiscal years of the data being collected, the required data for each collection window, and the collection window time frame.

For FY 2022–23 data, ESSA-PPE data submissions will satisfy the SLFS submission for that year. Beginning with FY 2023-24 data, the SFLS data collection will comprise of the collection of Instruction (NCES Function 1000) expenditures with the remaining expenditure categories being added in FY 2024–25.

Fiscal Year of Data Required Data CDE Collection Window
2022–23 ESSA PPE submission December 2023 to March 2024
2023–24 NCES Function Instruction (1000) December 2024 to March 2025
2024–25 and beyond

NCES Functions:

  • Instruction (1000)
  • Pupil Support Services (2100)
  • Instruction Support Services (2200)
  • School Administration (2400)
    Plus, three exhibits:
    • Salaries paid to teachers (With NCES Function 1000)
    • Salaries paid to instructional staff or assistants (With NCES Function 1000)
    • Books and Periodicals (with NCES Functions 1000 and 2200)
December to March of each year.

Calculating School Level Finance Survey Data

The SLFS data collection does not require that states develop new accounting structures to implement this reporting requirement. The guidance provided in this letter works within the current standardized account code structure (SACS) structure. LEAs, including charter schools, will calculate school-level SLFS data using the financial data available in their local accounting systems. To assist LEAs in understanding and calculating the data fields required by the SLFS, the CDE has created the following figures to crosswalk between the NCES codes and SACS codes.

Figure 1a — NCES Functions to SACS Functions Crosswalk shows the recommended SACS Function codes that an LEA can sum to obtain the equivalent NCES Function Code. For example, for FY 2023–24 data collection (CDE Collection Window 12/2024 to 3/2025) the requirement is Instruction (NCES Function 1000). To obtain the equivalent of NCES Function 1000 it is recommended for the LEA to take the sum of SACS Functions 1000, 1110, 1120, 1130, and 1190.

Figure 1a

NCES Function NCES Description SACS Function(s)
1000 Instruction

1000 - Instruction

1110 - Special Education: Separate Classes

1120 - Special Education: Resource Specialist Instruction

1130 - Special Education: Supplemental Aids and Services in Regular Classrooms

1190 - Special Education: Other Specialized Instructional Services

2100 Student Support Services

3110 - Guidance and Counseling Services

3120 - Psychological Services

3130 - Attendance and Social Work Services

3140 - Health Services

3150 - Speech, Pathology, and Audiology Services

3900 - Other Pupil Services

2200 Instructional Staff Support

2100 - Instructional Supervision and Administration

2130 - Curriculum Development

2140 - In-House Instructional Staff Development

2420 - Instructional Library, Media, and Technology

2490 - Other Instructional Resources

3160 - Pupil Testing Services

2400 School Administration 2700 - School Administration

Figure 1b — NCES Exhibits to SACS Codes Crosswalk is very similar to Figure 1a except that it requires a subsection of data previously calculated. For example, when calculating Salaries paid to teachers (NCES Function 1000; NCES Objects 1X1 and 1X3), it is recommended the LEA filter the sum of SACS Functions 1000, 1110, 1120, and 1190 by SACS Object 1100. The resulting value will be entered into the data field.

Figure 1b

NCES Description SACS Object(s)
Salaries paid to teachers (With NCES Function 1000) 1100 - Certificated Teachers' Salaries
Salaries paid to instructional staff or assistants (With NCES Function 1000)

2100 - Classified Instructional Salaries

2200 - Classified Support Salaries

2900 - Other Classified Salaries

Books and Periodicals (With NCES Functions 1000 and 2200)

4100 - Approved Textbooks and Core Curricula Materials

4200 - Books and Other Reference Materials

Expenditure Detail

The guidelines that follow are from the National Public Education Financial Survey (NPEFS) and should be used by LEAs in determining the expenditures that should be included and excluded when submitting school-level data.

Included Expenditures

To meet the SLFS requirement, LEAs need to report all expenditures related to the day-to-day operation of their schools, and include appropriate expenditures incurred by the LEA on behalf of the school. These expenses can include staff salaries, benefits, supplies, purchased services, as well as general and school administration costs.

It is important to note that the SLFS requires actual expenditures, not budgeted or estimated, to be used.

Excluded Expenditures

Certain expenditures should be excluded when reporting school-level financial information. For example, expenditures not associated with prekindergarten through grade twelve students, such as adult education. Additionally, one-time significant expenditures, such as facility acquisition, should be excluded as it may distort the school-level data. The CDE recommends LEAs consider the following categories for exclusion:

  • Adult Education (Fund 11; Goal 4XXX)
  • Capital Outlay (Function 8500; Object 6XXX)
  • Community Services (Goal 8100, Function 5000)
  • Debt Service (Function 9100, Object 74XX)
  • Nonagency (goals 7110 and 7150)
  • Tuition (Function 9200, Object 71XX)
  • Transfers (functions 9200 and 9300; Object 72XX, 76XX)
  • County Services to Districts (goal 8600)

Reporting Central-Level Expenditures

The expenditure calculation in the central-level expenditure fields should include those districtwide expenditures that are attributable to the school. To prevent duplication of expenditures, do not include expenditures reported elsewhere in this collection effort. Examples of central expenditures include:

  • General Administration
  • Food Services
  • Transportation Services
  • Enterprise Operations


LEAs are ultimately responsible for the spending decisions made on behalf of their schools and are in the best position, based on LEA characteristics and governance, to identify expenditures that should be excluded and those central-level costs that benefit individual schools. To minimize the reporting burden and ensure consistency when fulfilling federal reporting requirements, the CDE recommends LEAs to use their methodology to determine inclusions/exclusions of ESSA-PPE expenditures. That said, LEAs should ensure that, to the extent possible, expenditures reflect costs that were actually incurred in educating the students at the school site. LEAs should not use an averaging methodology to distribute expenditures among their schools whenever feasible.

The CDE highly encourages LEAs to create an action plan on how they anticipate being able to capture/code the required SLFS data elements at the school level. As LEAs record FY 2023–24 financial transactions, consideration should be given to this new reporting requirement and how LEA local financial systems will capture the information needed for school-level reporting at the Instruction Function level. Moving beyond FY 2023–24, LEAs should begin planning for the additional function categories that will be required to be reported to SLFS.

Other areas for consideration:

  • Use prior year financial data to prepare test SLFS data to make preliminary assessments of the outcomes and whether those outcomes meet expectations.
  • Anticipate questions that may be asked by the governing board, parents, and other stakeholders, and be prepared to answer them.


The CDE will provide technical assistance and support to LEAs through the implementation of the SLSF requirement. A SLSF web page ( has been developed and CDE is working on frequently asked questions and other technical resources to post on this web page. Additionally, the CDE will host technical assistance webinars in the future on the SLFS requirements. Updates and webinar announcements will be shared via the ESSA PPE listserv. If you would like to join, please send a blank message to to subscribe to our mailing list.

If you have any questions regarding the SLFS reporting requirement, please email the CDE School Fiscal Services Division, Fiscal Oversight and Support Office at


Elizabeth Dearstyne, Director
School Fiscal Services Division


Last Reviewed: Friday, March 15, 2024

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