Budgeting is a process and plan for determining how money is to be raised and spent, as well as a document – the budget – developed and approved during the budgeting process.
In more technical terms, a budget is a statement of the total educational program for a given unit, as well as an estimate of resources necessary to carry out the program and the revenues needed to cover those expenditures. A vertical budget includes the various income and expenditure estimates in a given fiscal year, while a horizontal budget will include current estimates for a given fiscal year, compared to prior audited income and expenditures, and a projection of costs into the future. Hence, the budget is a statement of purpose and a review of income and expenditures by function – with a timeline to explain past, current, and future
A school budget is a fiscal managerial document used to plan for the projection of expenditures that will be incurred during a designated period of time. The time period is referred to as the fiscal year.
Philosophy regarding the school budget
The philosophy in establishing the annual school budget should be to create a budget that supports appropriate funding for all educational programs so that the students may benefit and learn from quality learning experiences based on educationally sound and fiscally prudent planning.
Sources of Revenues that support the School Budget
A. Federal Funds
Federal funds support a minimal portion of the budget for expenditures that are directed
to specific categories of students with special needs for programming.
B. State Funds
State government provides funds to support schools in districts.
C. Local Funds
Local funds are generated primarily from property taxes and some miscellaneous sources. Local funds support the largest portion of the school budget.
Basic Process for the Development of School Budget
To begin the budget development process, the administration analyzes expenditures from the
previous year’s budget. This analysis includes informal and formal audits, review of instructional versus non-instructional costs, study of budgeted versus actual expenditures, and various projections of increases in student enrolment, impact on facilities, and so on. The budget development process encompasses both school-based budgeting and district-based
budgeting. Budgeting by school sites decentralizes decision-making, thus promoting school staff input and providing for expenditure choices to meet student needs in the various schools. The school-based level also provides opportunity for parental input. The school-based budgets are reviewed to ensure that they correspond with the requirements of statutes,
educational goals, district policies, and collective bargaining agreements. With school-based
budgets, one can expect to see variances in how monies and resources are allocated at the school level. Differences in allocations reflect differences
in student needs and in the overall size of the student population. School staff is responsible
(1) determining program requirements and assessing what students will require for learning
and teachers will need for teaching; (2) initiating and supervising an assessment of program needs relative to staffing and scheduling; (3) obtaining community perspectives and opinions concerning school needs; (4) recommending a school based budget that allocates funds in a manner best-suited to achieving the school improvement plan; and (5) supporting school-based budget statistics with the plan for school improvement.
Annual School Budget Timeline
Month Budget Activity Person(s) Responsible
July Planning / Data Review Superintendent / Administrators
August Data Review/ Projections Director of Fiscal Services
September Budget Priorities Input Administrators / Staff / Parents
October School-Based Planning Administrators / Staff / Parents
November District-Based Planning Superintendent / Directors / Public
December Budget Proposal to Board Superintendent / Director of Fiscal Services
January Budget Workshops Board / Administrators / Public
February Budget Workshops Board / Administrators / Public
March Budget Hearing Public / Board of Finance
April Budget Workshops Board of Selectmen / Board of Finance / Public
May Budget Referendum Parents / General Public Voters
June Current Budget Close-Out Superintendent / Director of Fiscal Services
Categories of Expenditures that comprise the School Budget
Includes expenditures for salaries, contracted services, travel expenses, equipment rental, supplies, books, classroom furniture, and maintenance costs directly attributable to equipment.
Includes benefits for staff such as health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, social security, Medicare, retirement and pensions programs, unemployment, and workers’ compensation.
Student Support Services Accounts
Includes guidance and counselling, health, social work services, appraisal services, nursing services, psychological services and speech pathology and audiology services.
Instruction and Curriculum Development Services Accounts
Includes aids for teachers in developing the curriculum, preparing and utilizing special curriculum materials, and understanding and appreciating the various techniques that stimulate and motivate students.
Educational Media Services Accounts
Includes content materials, methods, or experiences used for teaching and learning purposes, printed and non-printed sensory materials such as textbooks, instructional supplies, software and computer leases/ purchases.
Board of Education Accounts
Includes activities of the elected body which has been created according to state law and vested with responsibilities for education activities in a given administrative unit.
Office of the Superintendent Accounts
Includes activities of the superintendent and assistant superintendent in generally directing and managing all affairs of the district, including all personnel and materials in the office of the chief executive.
Office of Principal Services Accounts
Includes activities performed by the principal, assistant principals and other staff while they supervise all operations of the school, including the work of clerical staff in support of the teaching and administrative duties.
Fiscal Services Accounts
Includes budgeting, receiving and disbursing, financial and property accounting, payroll, inventory control, internal auditing and managing funds.
Operation and Maintenance of Plant Services Accounts
Includes activities concerned with keeping the physical plant open, comfortable and safe for use, and keeping the grounds, buildings and equipment in effective working condition and state of repair.
Student Transportation Services Accounts
Includes activities concerned with conveying students to and from school, as provided by state and federal law, such as trips between home and school and trips to school activities.
Central Support Services Accounts
Includes activities which support each of the other instructional and supporting service programs, including planning, research, information, staff and data processing services for storage, reproduction of information for management and reporting.
Food Service Operations Accounts
Includes preparing and serving regular and incidental meals, lunches or snacks in connection with school activities and food delivery.
Community Services Accounts
Includes activities concerned with providing community services to students, staff or other community participants, including adult education.
Facilities Acquisition and Construction Services
Includes activities concerned with acquiring land and buildings, remodeling buildings, construction of buildings and additions to buildings, initially installing or extending service systems and other built-in equipment and site improvements.
Debt Service Accounts
Serving the debt of the district, including payments of both principal and interest.
Steps in Planning the School Budget
No matter how you look at it, a school needs money to run properly. They simply cannot function without money to pay expenses. In fact, to get the necessary money, someone on the staff must know how much money is needed, in order to keep the school running. A budget can be difficult to write, especially with the number of things that must be factored in and considered. The following article is related with how a school budget can be planned.
Start with personnel salaries. Include all administrative positions, as well as all support staff, from the janitors to the dietary workers. Do not forget ancillary positions, such as a school nurse or counsellor. Add the salaries of every teacher and aid worker. Next, add insurance costs, sick and vacation pay, payroll taxes and other benefits.
Add contract labour costs. Most schools have security forces on campus, traffic directors, even football field grounds workers and grass cutters. Add the costs of all contract labour.
Factor in the cost of running the physical facility. Add the yearly utility costs and other normal day-to-day maintenance costs. This could include plumbing and electrical repair, painting, floor or ceiling repair.
Include the costs of supplies. Add up the cost of toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, light bulbs, pails, buckets, and mops. Do not forget paper for copy machines, printer paper and all required forms that are needed to run a school.
Add the cost of machinery and equipment. Computers need to be replaced, overhead projectors and other teaching aids must be repaired or replaced yearly. Average this cost and include in your yearly budget. Even the school bells may need repair or replacement.
Sports equipment must be replaced or repaired. Add in the costs of basketballs, goals, footballs, soccer or any other sports equipment to be used within the school year. Do not forget band and other extracurricular clubs and activities.
School grounds and parking lots need to be taken care of yearly. Include a line item for outside repairs and upkeep.
Do not forget capital costs. Does the school need a new roof? Add in the associated costs, over a period of several years. This will create an insurance for the repair (i.e. The money is budgeted in the event that the work must be done in the future.)
See what expenses have been incurred in years past. Include these as well as any anticipated increases in costs. Consider staff raises or rising insurance premiums.
Writing a budget is difficult, but good record keeping makes the task a lot easier to do.