School administrators are tasked with the challenge of making sure their allocated funds are used in a way that effectively promotes student success. Their resources must be utilized to maximize available resources. The decisions that are made as part of this process need to be transparent and showcase Best Practice, which includes consolidated the budget to show all funds that a school district has; this will promote the most value within all of its resources.
Part of budget allocation requires considering staffing news. These needs are based on student numbers, as well as how the numbers may change in the coming academic years. Maintaining sufficient employees without overstaffing should be planned for during the process; if this part of budget allocation is challenging, flexible staffing may be a way to maximize monies.
Allocating funds requires considering several categories. These categories need specific budget lines and will vary based on the school size and particular demographics. Specific major budget categories include transportation, facilities, energy, health and safety, food services, curriculum, and development, as well as counseling services.
During the budgeting process, make sure to align the budget with the school’s improvement plan. The plan shows where there is a need, and since there are not unlimited funds, one cannot neglect the areas showing the need for improvement. Look for ways to get the most significant return on investment for those items that will be used to address the school’s improvement plan.
Administrators who are new to budgeting will want to understand the different resources the school has. Delegated funding can usually be used in whatever way the budget committee deems best; on the other hand, devoted money comes with conditions that must be followed. Meanwhile, capital funding is used to improve a long-term asset just as building upgrades or technology network upgrades. Last, revenue funding is money that should be used within a year on things such as salaries, heating, routine repairs, or office expenses.
While there are many aspects of creating a school budget that cannot be sufficiently covered in this article, there are some essential tips that should be emphasized.
- Work together. Different departments must find common ground to ensure that the best decisions are made for the students.
- Use data. Do not create a budget that is a reflection of the way it has always been done. Use modern tools to review budget or to analyze data that should be included when making budget decisions.
- Ask the hard questions. Decide what is working and what needs to be changed in terms of hiring and other Human Resources topics.
- Prioritize. Think about what areas must be given top priority. Resource allocation requires a long-term instructional strategy; the budget cannot focus on a single year.
- Maintain an organized, strategic process to generate a budget draft after that consider revisiting the budget with the appropriate people to make any changes. Evaluate and adjust the selection as needed to ensure there is a long-term vision in place for the next three to five years.
Budgeting is not a quick process. Many specific components must be considered when allocating a school district’s funds. Failure to follow the necessary steps and creating line by line expenses is essential to ensuring that a school is budgeted in a way that promotes student success with access to essential resources.