K-12 Records Resources

January 20, 2022

K-12 School District Budget Planning Tips

Follow our guide to exercise budgeting best practices when deliberating district spending


Guide to School Budget Decision Making

Qualified Committee Selection 

Setting clear expectations, timelines, and roles in the school budget process will help this complicated process to run smoothly. According to National Center for Educational Statistics, Because individuals may serve in a variety of roles in the budget development process, the division of duties may differ among districts. It is important, however, to clearly define the staff assignments and parameters if the budget development process is to operate efficiently”. Citizens and taxpayers want to know that the money they spend is being utilized in a responsible manner that will benefit the students in their community.  Those selected to fill the role of the budget committee should be strongly vetted.  


Budget What is Valued

There is a saying by Jame Frick; “Don't tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I'll tell you what they are.”

Be sure to align your district goals with what has been included in the budget. For example - If the Goal or Mission of the school district is to Prepare Students for 21st Century Careers, then it is imperative that budget items reflect being able to achieve that goal. Consider writing your top goals or mission statement where everyone on the committee can see it and refer to it when items are being ranked.  


Transparency Required

Creating, adopting, and implementing a budget for schools can be complicated and even emotional for some Stakeholders  Ensuring that perceived wants and needs stay data-based and not emotionally charged can keep drama to a minimum. Having a goal or using decision-making tools, like the Kepner Tregoe can be helpful.  


Emphasize Efficiency and Reallocate

There are resources, including time, that should be analyzed. For example, using software to automate an existing paper-based process can easily be implemented. That one decision can save the district money, time, and even generate funds to pay for other automated software. If the focus of your school budget is enhancing positive student outcomes, then funding for student resources should be prioritized and inefficient processes should be addressed. 

View our Budgeting Best Practices webinar for more discussion on best practices for the preparation of budget planning, how to make strategic decisions based on your budgets from years prior, and ways to use data to advocate for the allocation of district funds.

Fill out the form below to view the webinar and download additional resources!