Creating a school budget

District residents have the final say on the annual school budget when they vote in May. Prior to that vote, several steps and a lot of work must take place to craft a balanced budget proposal.

Set GoalsSapphire Elementary student has fun on the playground.

The Monroe-Woodbury Central School District Board of Education, comprised of elected volunteers from the community, sets goals for education in the district every year. Those goals help the district measure its success in relation to meeting community and state education standards. The school board and superintendent use them to guide the budget process and to help prioritize budget items.

Review

An important part of planning for the future is reflecting on the past. Early in the budget process, the school board and superintendent review data on current student enrollment, academic performance and costs to operate the district, including employee salaries and benefits. They also consider trends in the costs of supplies (e.g., fuel, electricity, etc.) and outside services (e.g., BOCES programs).

Some items on the cost side are not known until the end of the calendar year. For instance, State mandated contribution rates to the NYS Teachers Retirement System (TRS) and Employee Retirement System (ERS) are released by the State Comptroller in December.

ResearchGirls cross country team celebrates their win!

Building a budget, of course, is not just about expenses. The school board and superintendent also research revenue trends. That means looking at trends in State Aid, researching changes in the local tax base and the challenges facing residents and business owners who provide the funds for the school tax levy. While the Assistant Superintendent for Business can “guesstimate” what the district might receive in State Aid based on enrollment, trends and research, the actual figure is not known until the Governor releases his budget at the end of January (if there is an on-time budget).

Proposal

The superintendent delivers a draft budget proposal to the Board of Education at a board meeting in January. This proposal is a culmination of several months’ worth of reviewing and researching. That proposal goes before the school board, which reviews it during several public meetings between January and March. They ask questions and share residents’ perspective on the budget before it moves to a final proposal.

Community members also have input on the superintendent’s budget proposal. All residents are encouraged to attend Board of Education meetings and work sessions to see and hear how board members go about their work of analyzing the superintendent’s budget proposal. Comments, concerns and suggestions from residents are taken at Regular Board Meetings. Additionally, the school district holds several Community Budget Forums throughout the process, giving residents the opportunity to learn more about the budget and to participate in roundtable discussions where they can offer opinions and suggestions. Budget information is published on this website, where residents can explore and learn more about all that is being considered and discussed. Anyone can email the superintendent or the Board of Education to ask questions about or share their thoughts on the proposal.

Review

From January through March, the school board and superintendent review and discuss community feedback on the initial budget proposal. Budget elements that are legal requirements (e.g., employee contracts, state mandated special education services, etc.) generally cannot be adjusted, but some budget areas may be adjusted based on that feedback. A final budget proposal is then formally presented to the community in April.

Vote

Perhaps the most important step in the whole process is the annual school budget vote. The school budget vote is held on the third Tuesday in May.