A budget is the instrument which sets forth a financial plan for the achievement of the goals and objectives of the school district for the upcoming year. It is also the community’s educational plan expressed in dollars. It is required to be formally adopted by the Board of Directors each year and a copy must be submitted to the state. The budget covers the school fiscal year, which is September 1st through August 31st of the following calendar year. It establishes maximum expenditure amounts for each fund and provides a means of measuring and guiding performance.
Financially sustainable schools must have clearly defined policies and procedures in the areas of finance, operations, and risk management. Through consistent application of these policies and procedures, schools practice long-term management of their financial and physical resources to ensure their ability to serve current and future students. Understanding how and why a district approaches its finances and operations is a critical aspect of assessing what is needed to support a 21st century sustainable education. I would encourage you to read the various budget documents below and the School Board Governance Operation Expectation Policies OE-5, OE-6 and OE-7 to become more familiar with these important aspects of your school district.
F-195 Annual Budget & F-195F Four Year Forecast
All districts are required to annually submit a balanced operating budget (F-195) for the budgeted fiscal year. [RCW 28A.505.130 and WAC 392-123-076] It serves as the primary tool for planning and controlling operations. By contrast, a district’s four-year budget summary plan (F-195F) is a forecast - an estimation of future revenue and expenditure trends and outcomes. [RCW 28A.505.040]
Unlike a district’s annual operating budget, which is the financial expression of the district’s educational plan or target and the community’s educational expectations expressed in dollars, a district’s four-year budget summary plan is the prediction of upcoming events or trends that may have an influence on policies, strategic goals, or community services.
That said, there are significant differences between a district’s annual operating budget and its four-year budget forecast, such as …
- The budget is a financial plan regarding money, prepared for the forthcoming fiscal year, whereas the forecast is an estimation of future revenue and expenditure trends and outcomes based on historical data and assumptions about the future.
- The budget is a financial expression of the educational plan, whereas the forecast is a prediction of upcoming events based on current and anticipated conditions.
In short, the key difference between the budget and the forecast is that the former is a plan outlining current district priorities, and the latter is a prediction of what might happen to the district’s finances in the coming years based on a given set of assumptions.
It is a Legislative requirement that, during the budget presentation, the Materials, Supplies, & Operating Costs (MSOC) – essentially, all expenses that aren’t employee salaries and benefits - are disclosed for the following programs:
- · Basic Education (01)
- · Alternative Learning Experience (02)
- · Dropout Reengagement (03)
- · Districtwide Support (97)
While the F-195 presents the budget in the legally required format, it isn’t very user-friendly. The Citizen’s Budget is designed to be a more easily-read document that is colorful and uses charts to make the budget information more accessible. It contains the same information found in the F-195 but in a summary format.
For more information: Assistant Superintendent Mark Deebach, 360.383.9203, Send email