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School Budgets

Interview with Principal

Selena Frizzley
EEA 536: School Finance and Operations
Masters of Education in Leadership
Date: February 10, 2017
Instructor: Heather Henderson
School Budgets

Creating a budget can be a complex system of checks and balances while trying to

maintain focus of ones vision and mission. The budget allows a Principal of a school to make

economic decisions based on their insight for what is best for the students and staff. Input from

additional stakeholders is typically considered but ultimately the decision-making process is the

responsibility of the Principal. Using the schools Continuous Improvement Plans as a focus for

budget development and planning is key to the successful implementation of budgetary


Key considerations that need to be vetted when creating a budget are beginning with the

end in mind. What are the ultimate results that the school is hoping to achieve? Looking to

the Continuous Improvement Plans and keeping the mission and vision for the school at the

forefront of all decision making is extremely important. At the Holy Spirit School Division, most

of the school budget is centrally managed. The salary of the teachers, support staff and

maintenance is not managed by the school principal. The remaining budget is limited and so

great care and consideration needs to be applied when determining where funds will be allocated

within pre-determined budget.

The budget itself is comprised of several different areas by which the Principal can build

a pool of money that the school is in control of the spending. The school receives money based

the number of students in the school and per student allotment. Depending on programming,

schools are eligible to receive additional funding for French Immersion programming, English

Language Learners and students on Individual Program Plans and more specifically code 40 and

44 students. Combining these categories creates the schools annual budget.

School Budgets

When developing the budget a number of factors need to be taken into account. Each

teacher in the school is allotted eight substitute days per year. These days are used for time away

from school, personal days, assessment days, sick days, doctor appointments. Payment for the

substitute teachers needs to be budgeted for and the school needs to ensure it has allocated

sufficient funds to cover the costs of every teaching using every substitute day. Conversely, if at

the end of the school year the quota of substitute days has not be used then the school can

consider this a surplus.

Plant Operations should also be considered in the annual budget. This money is directly

removed from the budget as needed for necessary cleaning supplies for the school. Some items

that fall into Plant Operations are paper towel, toilet products and any necessary cleaning

supplies for the care taking staff. The Principal is permitted to draw against the schools budget

to pay for Plant Operations without requiring external approvals.

When executing a financial plan for a school one needs to plan for the necessary work

which requires constant review and adjustments of available funding by working with your

administration assistant. Executing the annual financial plan requires a great deal of work and

oversight to ensure the school has sufficient funds to meet it needs while also being cognisant

that the budget funds within the budget need to be spent on an annual basis or risk having funds

forfeited. Because of this, January to May can become a very busy time in terms of budget

planning. Funds that are not used at the school level are returned to Central Office; there can be

opportunities of having these funds returned to the school the following year however, Central

Office could determine the funds should be used to support other schools. Different

Administrators have varying philosophies on this topic when deciding whether to spend the

money or return the remaining funds to Central Office for further distribution.
School Budgets

Within the guidelines of working on a school budget throughout the year the

administrative assistant will support the budgetary process by advising what funds remain in the

budget and in relation to expected expenses within each of the budget lines. Remaining up to

date the on budget line items and considering where funds can be shifted and reallocated is an

essential function when balancing budget.

Determining the different activities and essentials needs within the school are at the

discretion of the Principal. For example, the amount of money set aside for the staff to attend

professional development or for the professional development to occur in the school is

determined by the Principal. The same holds true for fieldtrips, office supplies, photocopying,

sports equipment and any other general administration expenses the school incur.

It is the responsibility of the Principal and Assistant Principal to work together to develop

the budget. Parents have an opportunity to provide input through Parent Council; their

involvement and feedback are provided in the development of the Continuous Improvement Plan

which translates into budget spending. Teachers have an opportunity to provide input using their

own classroom budgets. Each teacher receives a budget allocation based on what they determine

to be the most important needs of their individual classrooms.

One of the most challenging aspects of creating and managing a budget keeping up to

date on the financials as the school year progresses. Budget lines are managed and updated

using an online process usually completed by the Administrative Assistant. All transactions go

through Central Office which at times can make it difficult to understand the precise financials

for each budget line; because the budget is not live and there is delays in being able to review

your actual spend to date.

School Budgets

Holy Spirit School Division follows a combination of Centralized and Decentralized

budget where collaboration occurs in some areas and independently in others. The Secretary

Treasurer is an available resource schools can leverage to answer questions regarding budgets.

The Secretary Treasurer will assist first year Principals by coming to the school to provide

additional training and support as required. Reviewing previous budgets can also provided

useful information that is required to build the necessary framework to building a successful

budgetary cycle.