Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Reflection On School Budgeting

This past week we discussed the role of the Secretary (Book keeper in some campuses), Department Chair, Assistant Principal, Principal, and Site Based team in the budgeting process. The assignment you are required to post is to list five things that you personally learned about the budgeting process from this assignment. Please be thorough and thoughtful in your responses.

Please post your response before March 1. Thank you. dh


  1. Five things that I learned about the budgeting process through my colleagues and classmates include:
    1. The "buck stops" with the building principal. Since he/she is accountable for all budgets and student organization accounts, he/she must be educated about expectations, policies, the law, and all deadlines. He/she also needs have trustworthy staff members overseeing the budget.
    2. The budgeting process starts the spring semester prior to the new school year. At our campus it starts in April by reviewing the current budget and assessing where money was spent, or not, and where it will be needed for next year.
    3. There are different ways a principal can gain input in the budgeting process. My principal meets with department heads and other campus leaders concerning their needs for next year.
    4. It is very important to keep inventories of permanent instructional materials and technology for accountability reasons and so as to better assess needs for the following school year.
    5. Accounts for student organizations can be a real headache! Sponsors often try to take shortcuts or spend funds at the last minute which could lead to legal problems. It is important to educate your staff annually on the rules/laws for student club accounts and fundraising.

  2. 1. The principal must prioritize the needs of the campus when budgeting items at his campus.
    2. Central office and campus administrators must communicate with each other the vision that the district and campus have in mind when setting up yearly budgets.
    3. Secretaries are the constant when working with budget codes. The secretary handles a lot of the leg work to ensure that the paperwork is in order for a purchase.
    4. Campus committees are an important process when deciding where monies are spent. Since committees can bring to the attention what the needs are in a campus and where funds can be spent.
    5. Campus improvement plans are an important financial document that must be tied back to the budget approval process.

  3. I learned many interesting things through the interviews I conducted about the campus budget.
    1. The Principal's Secretary is VERY valuable. She said her main role is to make sure the principal stays on the time line and the school does not go into the negative.
    2. The Principal's Secretary is responsible for knowing the correct budget codes, rules, and vendors they are allowed to use.
    3. The Principal's Secretary stated the challenge of keeping track of all the different accounts for the school. I did not realize different types of accounts have different rules and regulations.
    4. The grade level chair I talked with shared her challenge of getting all 9 members of her 3rd grade team to agree on how to spend the money they were given as a grade level. She also talked about the challenge of filling out the paperwork and purchase orders.
    5. Every person I spoke with said they do not think the budget process will change next year due to the budget cuts. However, they did say they are concerned because they think they will receive less money.

  4. My campuses will have a similar situation to the above posts. At my campus, the principal's secretary is valuable to setting up the budget and making sure she follows the guidelines. THe principal and secretary work closely together to balance the budget. The assistant principal really does not work with the budget. Each grade level is given a certain amount of money to use for their team. The budget is submitted to the Campus Improvement Committee for approval, then submitted to Central office.

  5. The secretary at our campus is vital to the budgeting process. She is responsible for knowing which account funds to use. The principal relies heavily on the secretary to make sure the budget is balanced and that there is money available to use. Our budgeting process begins in April for the next school year. Monies need to be set aside to have at the beginning of the school year and to focus on what our school needs are since monies for the school year come in September. Our AP's are not directly involved with the budget.

  6. The five things that I learned about the budgeting process from this assignment are:
    1)While the principal is new it is best to go with what the budget already is. As time moves along the principal will learn how to make tranfers. If critical changes of the allocated money needs to be made it has to be taken to the board for approval.
    2) Site base team is the advisory and tells the principal how the money is allocated.
    3) School business officials are typically non-educators but they have to have a degree in business, accounting, etc.
    4) The secretary is the "gate keeper". She organizes every account/event on campus and take a tremendous amount of pride and they tend to be very tight lip.
    5)Student club accounts are the most difficult tasks. All fundraiser money has to be accountable.

  7. James Roden

    Five Things I learned about the budget process.

    1. From the principal I learned that he or she makes the final decision. They gather data and input from the site based decision team, administrative team and the department heads. No matter what others may recommend the principal has the sole responsiblity in deciding what goes where in regards to the needs of the school.

    2. From the VP I learned that they not only deal with discipline, they also deal with inventory. The VP on my campus makes sure that all major items are accounted for. When all inventory is data is gathered he or she lets the principal know what has been damaged, lost or stolen in regards to major items such as computers, printors and other high priced equipment.

    3. From the book keeper I learned that all accounts and purchase orders go through her. She is the "gate keeper" when it comes to getting things paid for and account paper work on time.

    4. Department Heads

    The Department Heads along with the site based team collaborate with teachers to see what is needed to provide instruction. Either it be printor ink, paper, and other supplies they make sure that the voices of the teacher are heard so that they can be successful in the classroom.

    5. The fifth thing I learned is that when it comes to education it all comes down to money. How much a teacher is paid, positions that are filled and eliminated. If the money is not there the programs and staff that are needed to run it do no exist. When the economy is strong the education system gets a big boost from the tax base, yet when the economy is down the tax money stops rolling in and the system is restructured. When the system gets to big and too expensive a good recession or depression presses the reset button on the cost of education.

  8. The five things I learned from the budget interview process:
    1. Some campuses are lax about allowing personnel to over-spend in relation to budget amounts.
    2. The school secretary is probably the most influential and important person on the campus
    To get on your side and to stay on her good side.
    3. The school secretary is the person to keep the budget process rolling at the needed pace.
    4. Although the secretary is the drive behind the process, the principal is solely responsible
    For oversight and as was mentioned earlier: “where the buck stops”
    5. The process won’t be affected by the current state of funding…..just messier.

  9. 1. I learned that a Needs Assessment Committee (NAC) consisting of school leaders, teachers, parents, and anyone else associated with the school is needed to provide feedback regarding the needs of the school for the upcoming school year.
    2. The needs of the school are then included in the Campus Improvement Plan.
    3. Finance uses the information in the CIP to plan the school budget.
    4. The school recieves money from the state based on student enrollment, type of students, estimated property tax revenue, and any other laws made by the Texas legislator that year.
    5. The majority of the state funding for education is based on property taxes. The property tax revenue is decreasing, so this means that the state can not provide the schools with the same amount of funding like in previous years.

  10. 5 School Budget Facts

    1. In smaller school districts the principal’s secretary can be very influential when there are budgeting needs. Do not under estimate their influence!
    2. There are some common factors, but each school district develops their annual budget in a unique manner that works best for their organization.
    3. Planning for the subsequent year’s budget is on-going. Many schools, however, begin to get “serious” about the next year’s budget in the spring.
    4. Our principal receives input from department deans about their budgeting needs.
    5.There is more oversight and a system of “checks and balances” than ever before on all levels; campus, district, regional, state, and nationally.

    Robert Westhoefer

  11. The five things that I learned personally about school budgeting are:
    1. On my particular campus, the principals secretary feels like the budget planning is up to the principal to figure out, and her job is to make sure the plan is carried out by managing plan and managing the budget.
    2. The second thing is from listening to my colleagues talk about what happens on their campus but the department chairs have some decision making control over how the budget monies will be allocated. On my campus I felt like the principal maintains most of the control over the decision making of what is spent and why.
    3. It is important for the secretary to keep up with the budgeting process. Our secretary is very good at closing out outstanding P.O.’s (number 2 in the district). That is not an easy task and I think acknowledging that accomplishment is important.
    4. The principal’s secretary is a vital part of how the school is run. It will be very important for me to have an efficient and skilled person working alongside of me on the daily bases. I want someone I can trust and depend on.
    5. Ultimately the principal is held accountable for everything that happens with the budget. There must be a good system of checks and balances in place and the principal needs to be aware of what is going on with the budget at all times. Budget if it is not managed well can cause and administrator to lose their job.

  12. I found that the principal is the primary person in control of our budget. The secretary is only there as a support system to the process and aids in keeping the timeline and process in check. I found that my department head for PE/Health doesn't even have a budget to buy supplies. I found that the principal pulls as necessary from fundraisers to pay for other things like lost textbooks. I found that my principal likes to keep budget conversations limited.

  13. Five things that I learned from the class discussion regarding the budgeting process:
    1. The principal has authority over the entire campus budget.
    2. The principal depends upon the school secretary and bookkeeper to assist with deadlines and oversight of the budget.
    3. It is important for the principal to allocate funds wisely to ensure that there are sufficient funds in the account to cover expenses through the end of the year.
    4. At my district, 10% of the budget is automatically allocated to the Library.
    5. Due to current budget conditions, campus budgets will be reduced.

  14. 5 things I learned about the school budgeting process.

    1. The District sets the timelines. Each campus should then set campus deadlines that are well in advance of the district deadlines in order to meet the district deadlines.

    2. The Principal's role in the budget process is the approval and alignment to campus goals.

    3. The School Secretary plays a critical role in the budget process. The Secretary's role is keeping track of the budget balances and making sure that the funds are in the proper line item budget for purchasing. She then processes the orders turned in to her through thr iTCCS system which is then approved by the campus principal and various district departments (depending on the funding source) the final approval is the district purchasing department. After the merchandise is received on the campus the purchase order is then sent to the Accounts Payable Dept for payment.

    4. There are 3 funds. Local which makes up the smallest part of the budget and are usually allocated to purchase supplies, refreshments for staff development (which cannot be purchased with state or federal funds) and extracurricular supplies (i.e. band, choir, athletics). Federal funds are typically the bulk of the campus budget. Restrictions on state funds are not as strict as with federal funds but not as lenient as Local funds. These are the funds the campus uses to begin the school year; they ar made available in August. Local and federal funds are not made available to the campus until September.

    5. The Campus Leadership Team (CLT) meets and votes on the way the Campus Federal Funds should be expended; (staff allocations, supplies, equipment, travel, extra day tutoring, refreshments, for turoring)

    Steve Garza

  15. 5 things I learned about the school budgeting process.

    1. That there should be more accountability, when it comes to spending. Some capmuses allow a department too spend money they don't have.

    2. On my campus the bookkeeper is responsible for keeping the process moving.

    3. That most of the department chairs on my campus are not very involved in the process. They receive an email from the bookkeeper requesting budget information, if the bookkeeper does not receive any input she will use the same amount from the previous year.

    4. If you want to find out what is going happening on campus, the secretary is the person you want to know. You should always try to stay on her good side.

    5. The principal ultimately responsible for the budget.

  16. At my campus I received similar feedback. At cambridge in AHISD the secretary is the right hand for the principal she aids in completing a lot of work especially for the budget. Right now she is just reviewing what is given to her from the principal and communicating that to the staff. The secretary does give some input to the principal in areas they can cut back such as in paper. Besides that the responses were very similar to other districts.

  17. 1. The principal usually receives the Title 1 budget in April and initiates the budgeting process in May. The site-based, decision-making body works closely with the principal to establish the campus’ needs assessment for upcoming school year. Negotiable line items include equipment under capital outlay, staffing, supplies, travel, and field trips. All federal monies approved by TEA must be documented in the campus improvement plan.

    2. The principal usually receives the state compensation and local budgets on September 1st of each school year. All expenditures are funded based on codes that are monitored by the principal and secretary.

    3. The principal must determine the most feasible means of spending all Title 1 funds allocated to his or her campus. The Title 1 budget is based on the school’s at-risk population. It is recommended that the principal exhaust all funds allocated for the year in order to receive a comparable budget for the following year.

    4. The assistant principal is responsible for the fixed assets inventory and must account for all lost/stolen items. A fixed assets inventory is conducted for new leaders within the first six weeks of receiving their assignments.

    The assistant principal may also oversee the types of items that are listed on each grade level’s request form.

    5. The secretary and I observed evidence of the first budget cut in our local account. There was a 10% budget cut listed in the online budget. A principal has the authority to move funds within the same budget code only. Misappropriation of funds can be the result of school leaders moving funds between different budget codes.

  18. The five things I learned on my campus regarding their budget are:
    1. The principal oversees the entire budget for the campus, but the secretary handles quite a bit of it. The secretary takes care of all the 199 codes.
    2. The secretary uses a system that may seem out of date, pencil and paper. However, her budget is always balanced with central office usually to the cent.
    3. Our principal turn in a projected budget to our business manager by March.
    4. The secretary expressed that her biggest problem or issue involves paperwork not being filed properly, moreover directions not being followed and paperwork not being turned in in a timely manner.
    5. Both the secretary and principal were very clear that the more people that handle any of the school's moneys; the more problems that will occur.

  19. I have corresponded with a former teacher who is now a principal.

    The timeline for the budget process goes on beginning in March and following through until August. In this time the principal sets goals and look at resources and outcomes that can be expressed to the school board and administration. Between March and May goals and objectives are identified. At the end of May, there is a preliminary budget prepared. In June and July, the budget is evaluated and in mid-August they are ready to present it to the district for adoption.

    To prepare for the budget, the principal was responsible for helping to identify, establish, and help create and facilitate goals. He takes a look at several different areas that affect the school: academics, finance, personnel, technology and extra-curricular activities. He helps to guide and facilitate where and how money is spent. He states that if he unable to prove that any part of the budget is able to help the academics of the school, it will be omitted from the budget.

    The only issues that come up during the budgeting process is that every dollar of the budget MUST go towards the district's goals. This means that there are certain things in the budget that can be cut in order to comply with district budgeting standards.

    As far as question 4: "Well if we don't know what the legislature is planning to do then we are just going to do our best to be extra conservative with the budget process. This is a little scary because of the unknown. With cost of everything going up and less money that the state gives us (or in our case lets us keep) it is frustrating. Right now we are trying to figure out worst case scenario from a budgeting perspective. Fortunately, firing/laying off off or lowering pay is not an option our school district is considering."

  20. The 5 things I learned about budgeting at all levels are:

    1. School business officials are typically non-educators but they have to have a degree in business.

    2. The school/principle's secretary is a very important personality to treat with respect because in most cases she has the power to influence the principle and also she knows all the budget codes and regulations.

    3. Most schools begin to plan for the next shcool year's budget in March/April time frame, typically in the spring.

    4. The VP is responsible for inventory and reports any losses, damages, or theft to the principle.

    5. Student Organization Accounts are to be handled with care, fundraiser money must be turned in to the bookkeeper or secretary(whoever is designated to handle the accounts) by the end of the day for accountability.

    Nixon Mkubwa