Aurora Public Schools aims to tie spending more closely to student outcomes

With better reporting through Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP, this Colorado school system is exploring how to track ROI and guide future budgeting.


The data we produce in the cloud gives us a programmatic way to make smarter investments. If we don’t know what works, we don’t know where to put the money.

Gina LanierController, Aurora Public Schools

Business challenges

With administrators, parents, and taxpayers all invested in spending tax dollars well, it’s vital for Aurora Public Schools, a school district east of Denver, to run the numbers quickly and accurately—and to show how investments pay off in student outcomes. But it’s no easy feat, and most school districts, including Aurora, are still figuring out how to do it.

“When someone wants to spends millions of dollars on new materials or tools, we have to be able to measure how it helps students,” says Gina Lanier, Aurora’s controller.

However, the school district’s financial systems craved modernization. Producing reports on an aging on-premises application platform meant hours of manual work, slow turnaround times, the risk of human error, and inconsistent reporting. It was a significant challenge to clearly show how money fueled student achievement.


Why Aurora Public Schools chose Oracle

The need for better reporting and system integration drove the decision to adopt Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP and Oracle Cloud HCM.

Working with partner AST, Lanier’s team launched the Oracle Cloud ERP implementation in April 2020, completing it well before the start of the 2021 school year, despite working remotely during the height of the pandemic. In the final phase of the project, payroll will go live on Oracle Cloud HCM in late 2022.

Oracle automation would help improve system integration and financial reporting, along with structural changes to Aurora’s financial processes. The goal was to produce reports that more efficiently supported monthly, quarterly, and year-end closes, enabling more precise forecasting and better spending controls.


Aurora Public Schools

The Oracle systems give Aurora the tools to tie spending to student outcomes, though Aurora is just now learning how best to do it. “We’re starting to see clear paths to connecting funds and student outcomes,” Lanier says. “The data we produce in the cloud gives us a programmatic way to make smarter investments. The schools have limited resources and can’t invest in every initiative. If we don’t know what works, we don’t know where to put the money.”

Tighter integration is already helping Aurora hone its annual budget. Previously, forecasters made educated estimates about the number of employees signing up for benefits such as healthcare. Integrations with Oracle Cloud HCM give Aurora near real-time data on who’s enrolled.

“That makes our budget projections more accurate, so we can set aside adequate funds while ensuring we have other monies for things our students need,” Lanier says.

More precise reporting is making a difference, too. Automation eliminates manual error and standardized data sources yield a more consistent process and greater accuracy. School leaders enjoy faster, more up-to-date information to guide decisions on curriculum, after-school care, nutrition programs, sports and much more. Indeed, Aurora has shortened financial close by eight calendar days.

Workflows are smoother, too. Throughout finance and accounting, digital process has mostly replaced paper and signatures in triplicate. Invoices now come via email, with accounts payable staff simply checking to see all fields are correct—again, a minimum of manual work, and no need for full-time employees to scan them by hand. The new platform also accommodates automated vendor payments, reducing the cost to process payments by more than 13%.

Perhaps more than anything else, Aurora’s cloud-based platform delivers clarity and confidence. “When we share our five-year forecast with the State Board of Education, taxpayers, and voters, it’s based on better information,” Lanier says. Not a bad example for learners of all ages.


Partner AST understood Aurora’s business needs. “We knew exactly what we wanted the end result to be: more robust reporting and full integration,” Lanier says. Backed by AST’s expertise, her team “stayed focused on our pain points and the best ways to relieve them.”

Published:November 21, 2022