Midyear School Budget Tracking

By Charles K. Trainor

Commitment to education clearly is a strong American value. After all, our country spends a substantial amount of money on K-12 education. School districts spent approximately $610.1 billion in 2008-09. About $519 billion of that was invested in public elementary and secondary education. Nearly $65.9 billion was spent on capital outlays, and $16.7 billion on debt interest.

Hopefully, your community members demonstrate that they share this value with the support of their tax dollars. You must determine if the funds they invest in your district’s mission are yielding satisfactory rewards. The approaching academic midyear point is a good time to take stock of various aspects of spending. Assess whether your district is on target to meet its financial and academic responsibilities.

Many measures can help you. For example, evaluate the board’s track record regarding communication with the community and beyond. Ask administrators to report on the district’s academic progress. Familiarize yourself with demographic projections that may impact the district’s well-being.

Determine whether the costly equipment needed to support day-to-day functioning is being adequately monitored. And of course, ascertain whether your budget is on track. Taking stock now will ensure smooth financial sailing throughout the remainder of the year.

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