Closer Look: Understanding the school district budget process
The annual general fund budget is one of the most important legal documents that a school district will develop. Like the state, school districts’ fiscal years operate from July to June. As required by law, school districts must pass a budget by June 30 each year. This requires a lot of planning and even some estimation since the deadline coincides with the state budget deadline and school districts do not yet know their allocation from the state when they must develop and pass a budget. The district’s spending plan is based on its educational and operational needs, and the amount of revenues that are available. Many school districts confront difficult choices as they face increasing financial pressures in complying with numerous state and federal mandates that are often unfunded or underfunded. Districts follow legally required deadlines to allow for proper, transparent planning and public comment. Advertising the budget and public hearings are a key part of the budget development process. This report explains the process that school boards undertake to develop and adopt their district budgets. The publication also includes a listing of the deadlines that school districts must meet as they go through the process.