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[Administrator Tips] 3 Things to Keep in Mind When Budgeting for Next Year

[Administrator Tips] 3 Things to Keep in Mind When Budgeting for Next Year

As the end of the school year quickly approaches, it’s never too early to begin planning for next year. A critical part of any school or district’s plan for the upcoming academic year is the budget. Just like with setting up any kind of budget, planning and calculating where you’ll allocate precious resources to best serve your school community can be a complicated and time-consuming process with a lot of pieces to juggle.

It’s important to remember that a proper budget sets the foundation for everything you and your staff do over the course of the new school year to provide the best learning experience for your students. To help you get started, here are three things to keep in mind when working on next year’s budget.

1. Develop a partnership between financial and instructional leaders

In order to create a successful budget for your school, you’ll need to work on building a partnership between your instructional leaders and financial personnel. Work together to create a mission statement for the upcoming year with feedback from all stakeholders. Collaboration in the initial planning stages can make all stakeholders feel like they’re a part of one team with a common goal. Providing a space for everyone’s voice to be heard can help to create an environment that feels welcoming and inclusive to all.

2. Analyze your results from last year and prioritize

Take some time to reflect on your school’s performance from the previous year. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How did your students perform in the previous year?

  • Did you meet or fall short of your educational goals?

  • How was your budget spent last year?

  • Is your school planning on hiring new staff next year? How many open positions are forecasted to be filled?

While this is not a fully comprehensive list, it should be enough to get you thinking. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has put together a fantastic list of even more questions to ask yourself during the budgeting process, including areas like instruction, learning, and assessment; technology and hardware; leadership; professional learning; and data and privacy. Taking an in-depth look into what your results are from last year can give you the important context and knowledge to move forward with planning for next year.

Different groups and departments will have different ideas and expectations of how your school’s funds should be allocated, so be sure to keep everyone looped in appropriately. Develop a concrete list of your priorities, and allocate accordingly. Conducting a school survey can also be helpful to build connections and capture some great insights from your students, families, teachers, and staff. This is a great time to see whether or not your current spending aligns with your goals moving forward. If something is not aligned to your priorities anymore, this is an opportunity to reduce funding in that area. There will be decisions that will be difficult to make, like cutting spending in one area to afford another. However, this process should at least remain transparent to all parties involved.

3. Take advantage of outside funding opportunities

Is there a specific area (like technology) that you’re looking to focus on in the next school year but not sure where the money is going to come from? Look into grants! As long as you know where to look, there are plenty of opportunities to get some extra funding in ways that you may not have thought of before, like state competitive grant programs, corporate/industry grants, and nonprofit grants associated with different kinds of initiatives (like CTE). Check out this blog post of new and creative funding sources to get started.

With the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, signed into law by President Biden on March 11, $126 billion has been allocated for K–12 education. This significantly increases the amount of money provided from the two previous stimulus packages in hopes to get schools reopened safely. Check out our deep dive into the American Rescue Plan Act to find out what you can expect from each stimulus package, how they differ, what the money can be used for, and why partnering with the right digital learning partner matters.

Searching for more ways to make your planning time for next year even more valuable? Check out this blog post on what administrators can do now to plan for next year!

This post was originlly published April 2019 and has been updated.

Sources:

Skyward – Prepare for Budgeting

The Guardian – A beginner’s guide to planning and managing school budgets

Government Finance Officers Association – Best Practices in School District Budgeting

mckenna.wierman@edmentum.com's picture
McKenna Wierman

McKenna Wierman studied Journalism at the University of Mississippi, and has worked with Edmentum since June 2016. She currently serves as a Digital Marketing Specialist, and believes that empowered teachers are the key to successful students.