Managing a school budget is hard. It’s especially difficult when you have to factor in a wide range of student needs, parent concerns, and recent economic uncertainties. In 2022, creating a school budget is no easy task, and is only becoming more difficult.
As the learning gap continues to widen between socioeconomic groups, there is increased demand for school administrators to ensure inclusive access to learning opportunities, all while maintaining fiscal responsibility.
Luckily, you’re not alone. Here are three expert tips on how to build a budget that will serve the needs of your entire school.
Part of deciding school budgets so they are sensitive to all family needs means roping teachers in on why you are doing the strategy you are and how they can help. For example, have them answer the following questions before they request funding for their department.
Have you calculated the full cost of the investment at the time of funding? Have you included hidden costs and a small contingency fund? How much will you need to charge parents? Did you know you must bring back VAT receipts as these can be used to offset the school’s tax bill?
These questions will help teachers be conscious of how their funding decisions impact both families and the school.
By facilitating a collaborative and open dialogue around funding, school leaders receive better insights into funding requests. It’s a small change that goes a long way.
There’s a saying about school budgets: “developing school budgets would be trivial if school districts only attempted to do everything they did last year.”
Unfortunately, every year brings a new set of challenges: in recent years, this has meant anything from a pandemic to signs of an oncoming recession. These changes can dramatically impact a school’s funding in the upcoming year, as well as the financial situations of many families.
By defining priorities with the rest of your leadership team, like reducing class sizes or improving standardized testing performance, you can then build a budget around these priorities that is both sustainable and effective.
In addition, setting clear priorities will help your budget weather changing economic conditions — empowering your district to marginally adjust to changing circumstances.
This goes hand-in-hand with establishing priorities. A budget will be more stable and better planned if it considers the district’s five year plan, versus just the current calendar year.
These goals don’t just have to be financial. For example, if your long-term goal is to make school expenses, like field trips or lunches accessible to all of your students, it makes more sense to invest in a payment option that supports underbanked families - like Pay Theory.
Considering new vendors, strategies, and payment processors can result in changes that make an outsized impact on your budget for years to come.
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