District Budgeting Process and School Finance
The five (5) year forecast filed in October of each year is the beginning point and chief planning tool at a macro level for the following fiscal year’s budget. Generally in February of each year the Treasurer’s Office prepares budget estimates of the past couple of year’s expenditures in detail to all the Building Principals and Department Directors so they can begin preliminary work on a detailed line item budget which is the baseline of financial accountability. Several meetings are held on budget training and budget hearings on the total combined budget. The finished document is typically done in late May after the Board of Education and Administration has held hearings internally on the budget and make sure expenditures are in line with detailed five (5) year forecast estimates of expenditures. In this way the budget never exceeds the five year forecast. This helps establish the current and long term (up to five years) of resource planning of district resources. The public, Board of Education and Administration can use this annual budget tool to understand the financial position of the District in the short term, HERE AND NOW, while the five (5) year forecast which drives the annual budget give them a level of control over the long term resources of the district. Please review the Appropriation Budget document with an eye on the present – this fiscal year.
Short Term Finances
The budget, which should be balanced to the five (5) year forecast, builds the spending plan for the current fiscal year operations. The tools used to report short-term financial operations are:
o SM12- a monthly report to review revenues and expenditures budget versus actual down to the monthly level and year to date variance level. We use this report and will be posting the report monthly. The treasurer’s office has adjusted the monthly number to reflect the estimated timing of the revenue or expenditure in the current fiscal year. The Treasurer’s Office explains monthly any significant or material variance from estimates.
o Appropriation Budget– the tool to determine needs and match to available resources. The target at the present time is resource allocation to address and significantly improve student performance. We use the appropriation (expenditure) budget because the Board and Administration have greater control over increasing or decreasing these resources as necessary. Revenues are not as easily controlled because over 70% of those come from external sources beyond the district.
o The last piece of the short term financial picture is the current fiscal year within the Five Year Forecast. The Appropriation Budget will be the projection of the first year in the forecast. The Major Key -We have tied the Board and Administration short term planning to the five year forecast.
The Five Year Forecast -as noted above the Ohio Department of Education has mandated the reporting of a five year forecasting model that draws the road map of the general financial direction of the district. Springfield City School District involves the Administration in planning the larger picture (Staffing and Capital Needs) over a five year period. The Five (5) Year Forecast model and detailed “Notes to the Five year Forecast” in detail addresses the assumptions made to generate the numbers. The accuracy of the predictions are key to providing a stable educational program to our students. Levy projection and needs are also a very important factor in the long term plan. The largest issue that a reader of our Five (5) Year Forecast must take into consideration is the outside factors affecting the finances utilized within the system. We use due professional care in estimating all resources in the forecast, therefore the budget and thus all of our operating plans that sit on those estimates are as good as we can humanly make them, but to some extent there will always be variances. That is why each month we report to the Board and Administration what those current year variances are and how they may, if at all, effect the longer term projections of the district.