The foundation for the budget process is based on the board of education budget policy. A comprehensive budget policy guides the district administration in complying with the decisions of the board of education. To insure that the district's educational goals are met, budget policy should be based upon and consistent with the board's educational philosophy.
A viable budget policy is a yardstick by which the board of education can measure and evaluate the effectiveness of its budget process. Policy will provide areas of responsibility, continuity of budget process, adherence to laws and regulations, and establish expenditure controls.
THE NEED FOR BOARD OF EDUCATION POLICY
A sound effective budgeting process must begin with positive direction from the board of education in the form of budget policy. This policy should be kept up-to-date, and should be available to all district personnel involved in the budgetary process.
There are, of course, obvious rewards for the formation and implementation of the budget policy statement. These include: adequate control of the budgetary process so that a realistic financial plan is produced in a timely manner; consistency in the budgetary process from one budget cycle to the next; fixed responsibility for the various elements of the budget preparation process and for administration of the adopted budget, and; assurance that financial commitments do not exceed specific appropriations.
POLICY AS OPPOSED TO ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATIONS
Like all policy statements, budget policy establishes general guidelines or plans of action to be followed by district personnel. Day-by-day operations are usually controlled by a more detailed set of administrative regulations and procedures that are consistent with policy. They are more subject to change than policies.
Examples of a policy and regulation are as follows:
The chief school officer, in cooperation with all staff members concerned, is charged with the responsibility to prepare and present the recommended budget to the board for its review. The recommended budget should be presented to the board no later than the first board meeting in May.
All department heads and building principals will have their requests for instructional supplies and equipment for budget preparation to the Superintendent's office no later than the third week of December, using systems provided by the business office.
SUGGESTED CONTENT OF POLICY STATEMENT
- Responsibility for Preparation
- The board of education is responsible for the preparation and presentation of the budget to the residents.
- The annual budget shall be prepared in accordance with the laws of the State of New York. ((Education Law, §§1608, 1716, 2601-a).
- The board of education should charge the chief school officer with the responsibility of initiating, supervising and coordinating the budget preparation for presentation to the board of education.
- All staff members, both professional and support staff, are charged with the responsibility to assist the chief school officer in the development of the budget.
- Long-range planning
It is the responsibility of the chief school officer with the cooperation of the business official and other designated staff members to develop a five-year long-range plan in accordance with New York State guidelines. Such plan should be updated on an annual basis.
- Budget Calendar
The board of education, with the assistance of the chief school officer and the business official, shall develop and present for board adoption a budget calendar setting forth the approximate times of the year and order of consideration for budget items by the board. Once the budget calendar has been established in policy, the chief school officer and the business official should establish an administrative calendar as a regulation. This calendar will list the actual calendar dates for budget development, preparation and review, which may vary from year to year to correspond to the board calendar. (See APPENDIX A, Budget Calendar and Deadline Dates).
Final approval of the budget to be presented to the voters will rest with the board of education. City school districts will base the approved budget upon Education Law, Section 2516 and 2519.
- General Format for Presentation of the Budget
The budget for presentation to the district residents will be prepared by the chief school officer with the assistance of the business official. The detail shall be no less than that required by the Commissioner of Education and be available as required by Education Law, §§ 1608, 1716, and 2601.a. The board of education will approve the budget prior to its release (Education Law, §1716).
- Budget Adoption
The proposed budget will be presented to the voters of the district at the annual budget hearing. The voters will approve the budget by majority vote of those present and voting at the annual meeting on the third Tuesday in May (Education Law, §2022).
- Use of Fund Balance
The business official is charged with estimating as accurate a fund balance as possible for budget presentation and presenting the same to the board of education as required. The board will comply with the requirement of Real Property Tax Law §1318(1) in it's consideration of the use of the fund balance during budget deliberations.
- The chief school officer is responsible to the board of education for keeping the adopted budget in balance and for maintaining control of the expenditures within the budget parameters established by the voters. The day-to-day administration of the annual budget is centralized in the business function of the district under the supervision of the business official and members of the business office staff.
- The adopted budget is to be entered into appropriate books of accounts. All subsequent receipts and expenditures are recorded and controlled in accordance with the various categories of the adopted budget.
- The adopted budget shall, at a minimum, be maintained in the books of account in accordance with the Uniform System of Accounts for School Districts.
- Procedures should be developed and maintained whereby no claims or purchase orders are processed unless sufficient appropriations exist, and the requisite authorizations are present.
- The board of education shall require the district treasurer to render a monthly report of the status of the budget for each fund as required by Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, Section 170.2(p).
- Budget Transfers
The board of education is required to keep the incurred obligations within the amount of the total annual appropriations voted or authorized and the prior year's outstanding encumbrances. The board of education may make transfers or authorize the chief school officer to make transfers within limits established by the board and in accordance with Commissioner's Regulations, Section 170.2(k) and (1), and §2023 of Education Law regarding contingent budget caps.