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In cooperation with the Wisconsin Association of School Business Officials Accounting Committee, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) developed several comparative revenue and cost "benchmarks" that can be used for informational and general analysis purposes. Revenue and cost benchmark data are available on the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) Website.

Where to Find Revenue and Cost Benchmark Data
School Years  WISEdash   School District 
 Performance Report 
 WINSS Historical 
 Data Files 
Beginning with 2007-08 -- X --

Note that data are available at the district and state levels. No school level data and no data for nondistrict charters are available. More detailed school finance data and data for earlier school years are available from the School Financial Services Data Warehouse.

WINSS Data Analysis was a key source of DPI benchmark data about district revenue and costs until spring 2015 when statewide download files and expanded cost data for more recent years were added to the School District Performance Report (SDPR).

Revenue and cost benchmark data are reported annually for all school districts statewide as part of the SDPR. Below you will find detailed background information, definitions, and related links to facilitate use and appropriate interpretation of these benchmark data.


  • Revenue and cost data alone cannot indicate the extent or quality of particular district's educational program. Users of these data are encouraged to pursue the reasons for revenue and cost differentials between districts.
  • Totals available from different sources might differ (by up to several dollars) due to rounding. WINSS and SDPR round raw amounts only once at the final reported figures. Other sources may round at an earlier step and sum rounded amounts to final reported figures.

Definitions of Key Terms

For definitions, see the WISEdash Glossary (includes terms used in SDPR and WINSS).

Calculating Revenue/Cost Per Member

The SDPR reports several benchmarks intended to capture revenue/costs for resident students while factoring out, to the extent possible, revenue/costs for nonresident students. Benchmarks are as follows:

  • Revenue: Federal, State, Local Property Tax, and Other Local.
  • Cost:
    • Current Education Cost (CEC) which includes Instruction, Pupil/Staff Support, and Operation/Administration/Other Costs,
    • Total Education Cost (TEC) which includes CEC plus Transportation and Facility Costs, and
    • Total District Cost (TDC) which includes TEC plus Food and Community Service Costs

The account methodology for the revenue and cost benchmark calculations can be found at Comparative Revenue Per Member and Comparative Cost Per Member.

In Revenue/Cost per Member calculations, each revenue and cost benchmark is divided by the number of district members. Membership data used in these calculations is based on district resident student counts and does not reflect the number of students (resident and nonresident) counted as "enrolled" in the district for other purposes. For a discussion of "Membership" and "Enrollment" see the Comparative Cost and Revenue Homepage and WSLS, ISES, and Membership.

Rarely, revenue and cost data may be negative.

Data Changes Over Time

Prior to 1999-00. During the early 1980s, the Complete Annual School Cost (CASC) statistic was developed to provide a numeric measure for inter-district cost comparisons and was reported on a per resident member basis. Over time, K-12 educational programming and manner of delivery have become increasingly varied. In 1980, it was generally expected that a K-12 student would be educated in the district of residence. By the late 90's, many students were educated elsewhere and the cost to educate certain students was no longer accurately represented in the district actually incurring the cost. This resulted in the development and implementation of new measures in 1999-00. Note that CASC is not comparable to the new Comparative Cost measure.

Beginning with 1999-00. Comparative Cost calculation was revised to be a measure that captured cost for resident students, factoring out (to the greatest extent possible) those expenditures made on behalf of non-resident students. This was done to better align the cost measure with the aid membership statistic used in the Comparative Cost Per Member computation. The computation logic used in the Comparative Cost calculation continued to undergo revision over time to more accurately reflect a true measure of education cost. For more details see Comparative Cost per Member.

Beginning with 2007-08. Comparative Revenue computation changed in substantive ways, while the Comparative Cost calculation remained largely intact. Prior to this change, both resident and non-resident revenues appeared in the Comparative Revenue numbers. This change was done to bring Comparative Revenue into congruence with the methodology used for Comparative Cost, which reflects costs for district residents. For more details see Comparative Cost and Revenue and Comparative Revenue per Member.

Beginning with 2012-13. Data for the Norris School District, a K-12 reform school, is excluded from Comparative Revenue/Cost data.

Data Sources

Comparative per-member revenue and cost calculations are based on audited and finalized information obtained from the Annual School District Report and the PI 1563 Pupil Count.

Frequently Asked Questions about Financial Data

  1. Why is membership different from enrollment?

    Membership and enrollment are collected separately and differences in the purposes of these collections affect which students count for which districts and whether or how much each student counts. Membership and enrollment counts will not typically match. Revenue and cost reporting uses membership. For more details about the relationship between membership and enrollment, see WSLS, ISES, and Membership.

  2. Why are financial data for nondistrict charter schools not available?

    In general, the SDPR includes data for all school districts (under ch. 119 or ch.120, Wis. Stats) and nondistrict charter schools (under s. 118.40(2r), Wis. Stats.). However comparative revenue and cost data for nondistrict charter schools are not available.

    State law requires annual financial and programmatic audits of each nondistrict charter school. These reports are prepared and reviewed by each charter school's authorizer. The Department of Public Instruction does not receive these reports. Each nondistrict charter school keeps its own records and is not required to use a uniform chart of accounts for revenues and expenditures like school districts are.

  3. Why are WINSS historical data files not available for this topic?

    District revenue and costs were reported on WINSS beginning in 1998-99 with sources and reporting categories changing over time. To meet reporting deadlines, early years of WINSS revenue and cost data were unaudited. For more recent years, audited data were used but in some cases did not reflect DPI corrections made after initial publication. Since audited finalized benchmark data are available from the SDPR, and since School Financial Data Warehouse files are available for all the years covered by WINSS, WINSS historical data files are now available only upon request to document what was reported.

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