*Summer Edition* A Seasonal Guide: How Are School Budgets Made?

Time flies when you’re having fun with budgeting! Summer may seem like a quiet time in the education world, but it’s actually one of the busiest seasons for the finance and human capital teams.

Close the books: Once the fiscal year ends (June 30 for most districts), it’s time to close out the accounting for this year and officially transition over to the new school year on July 1. This process usually includes reconciling any outstanding invoices, making sure that payroll is set to transition to the new budget, and comparing actual spending for the year against the budget. There are often numerous state and federal reports to complete at this time as well.

Adjust the budget:You thought you were done? Unfortunately, state and local revenue is often finalized in late-May or early-June. In some states, an August state budget is not unheard of. As a result, further adjustments to the budget may need to be made once revenue numbers are finalized. If the district’s projections are accurate then these adjustments should be minor, but they can still be disruptive to district planning.

Open the books: Welcome to a brand new fiscal year! Hopefully, the district budget has been board-approved well in advance of July 1 (or whenever the start of the fiscal year occurs) and spending plans are in place. School leaders may use the summer time to order supplies and materials for the upcoming year so teachers and students are ready for the first day of the school year in August or September.

Hire for vacancies:All those newly created positions from the budget process and/or newly vacated positions at the end of the year need filling. Ideally, hiring begins before the summer, but union rules and other local factors means summer is a busy time for posting new positions, recruiting, and ultimately filling those roles.

Great school budgeting doesn’t happen once a year. Districts and principals should evaluate their budgets regularly throughout the year to ensure they are making strong data-driven decisions to benefit their students. Budgets shouldn’t change too often, but there are times when making strategic reallocation is the best thing for students. It’s important to have established quarterly checkpoints to look at things like shifting resources and budget reorganizations to make sure you’re helping students to get the most from every dollar.

Balance Manage is a great tool many districts use to conduct regular budget reviews. Learn more about mid-year reviews from Senior District Partner, Kate Kotaska.

These are just some of the considerations that occur when school budgets are made. I encourage you to attend your local school district’s budget meetings so you can see for yourself how budgets are made in your area. If you have any questions about the methods discussed or want to improve the budget process in your district, send me an email at hello@allovue.com.

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If you’ve enjoyed our seasonal guide to how school budgets are made, download the compilation and share it with those in your community. The more informed parents and community stakeholders are about what’s happening in their school districts, the better we can all help students succeed.


About the Author

Image of Jess Gartner Jess Gartner is the founder and CEO of Allovue, where edtech meets fintech - #edfintech! Allovue was founded by educators, for educators. We combine powerful financial technology with education data, giving administrators the power to connect spending to student achievement. Jess has been featured as one of Forbes Magazine’s 30 Under 30 in Education (2015, 2016 All-Star), The Baltimore Sun’s Women to Watch (2013), and Baltimore Magazine’s 40 Under 40 (2013). In 2014, she was recognized as the Maryland Smart CEO Innovator of the Year in the Emerging Business category. Before founding Allovue, Jess studied education policy at the University of Pennsylvania and taught in schools around the world, including Thailand, South Africa, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. As a Teach for America corps member, she taught middle school humanities in Baltimore City and received her M.A. in teaching from Johns Hopkins University.