On average, K-12 public schools spend about $612.7 billion annually – that’s $12,612 per pupil. Although analysts say these figures fall below global benchmarks, the average spend per pupil has increased considerably for the last six consecutive years.
School spending and budgeting are not only dynamic but also complex.
Budgeting involves precise financial planning to ensure funds get disbursed to the right programs in order to support a rich, high-quality learning environment for every pupil.
Understandably, the task of drafting a school budget can seem daunting at first, but it’s all a matter of strategic planning through considering past experiences and future expectations.
Here is a brief guide to school budgeting, highlighting five critical steps in the process:
Step 1: Review spending from the past year
Begin by analyzing the previous year’s budget and performance to gain insights into the school’s spending.
The point of this is not to copy exactly what you did last year but to increase the next budget’s accuracy by identifying underspends and overspends. It’s an opportunity to make improvements on resource allocation.
A thorough review of the last school budget will also help you form a base template or benchmark for the new draft.
Step 2: Create a list of goals and objectives
Make educated forecasts of your school’s financial needs for the upcoming fiscal year and create a prioritized list of measurable goals.
Be sure to consider and account for the impacts that external and internal factors, such as school development aspirations, legal compliance, economic stability, and curriculum changes, may have on the school budget.
In short, every financial goal must be realistic, achievable, and in line with the school’s core mission.
Step 3: Calculate existing expenditures
Evaluate the actual costs of various expenses within the school to work out its spending capacity.
Sum up all the direct expenditures, recurring expenses, technology service providers, and indirect costs, and pit them against the available funds to gauge the school’s fiscal fitness.
Doing this should tell you how much wiggle room there is in the school’s budget and the areas to prioritize when working with limited funds.
Step 4: Implement a strategic plan of action
You need to understand three things when creating a financial plan:
- the funds available
- spending opportunities or expenses
- the budget’s objectives
A plan of action brings all these variables together and translates the school budget into manageable and immediately actionable procedures.
The action plan should highlight the steps for acquiring, disbursing, and spending funds earmarked for various opportunities. It should also include operations plans and key performance indicators for all expenditures.
Step 5: Follow up
The final step in school budgeting is evaluation.
Follow up on the budget’s implementation to make sure everything goes as planned. Check in regularly with the institution’s finance department for progress reports and audits to maintain accountability for funds utilization and visibility into the financial pipelines.
The ongoing evaluation also helps you identify efficiency or accuracy improvements for the next annual budget or supplementary funding.
Budgeting For Your School’s Future
As a result of COVID-19 restrictions, about 1.2 billion students globally were forced out of school. This sparked an ongoing shift to online learning as more K-12 schools and higher-learning institutions rapidly adopted distant learning infrastructures.
Even as COVID-19 restrictions ease up, this trend will likely persist into the post-pandemic world. The takeaway from all this is that schools need to embrace digitization and invest more in cultivating remote learning cultures.
The question is, does your school budget adequately cover the school’s current and future IT demands?
Are you unsure about your school’s technical requirements or their costs? Let our team of experts guide your school’s digital transformation through adopting the most relevant and cost-efficient IT solutions.
CTSI is a managed services provider with a long history of assisting organizations in implementing and running high-return digital resources and services. Contact us today to learn more about IT allocations for your next school budget.