Thursday, January 29, 2015

Program budgeting: We have to do what?!

While the funding that supports our school district has remained fairly stable the last couple of years, we have entered another very uncertain phase as the state legislature begins its work. Due to this uncertainty and possibility of significantly reduced funding, we have begun a process known as "program budgeting" to help us plan for the 2015-16 school year.

Our district budget has been broken down into a number of "programs" - i.e. elementary instruction, transportation, administration/BOE, etc. - in order to look at specific costs related to each program and make recommendations on areas where budget reductions can be made if necessary. Each program manager - an administrator or department supervisor - will be working with a variety of stakeholders to review their areas and then make recommendations to hit specific targets. For instance, the High School Instruction program is nearly $6,000,000 this year. The program committee will work to find areas to reduce from 5% to 10% of the total budget ($300,000 to $600,000), and at the conclusion of the process will provide district administration with a prioritized list of reductions - accompanied by impact statements related to potential effects of such action.

Bottom line - this is never fun, nor is it a pretty process. We have to lay everything on the table and decide "what if" on a final budget that is months away from being decided. We are greatly appreciative of the serious work that will be devoted to these difficult discussions in the weeks to come.

© 2015 Russell K. Miller, EdD

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