The school year is right around the corner and even with the best intentions, it's easy to get off track when it comes to managing your department or school's budget. With that in mind, here's an easy checklist to help keep your school or district spending under control. It's as easy as A, B, C (sorry, we couldn't resist).
A: Assess Your Account Health
Assessing your spending during the previous school year is key to starting out the new year with an analytical lens. These early weeks of school are a great time to take stock of how you’re planning to spend those dollars to start the year off right.
How To Do It
- Review Last Year’s Ending Balances: Did you run out of funds in one area last year, or leave money unspent in another? Note any over- and/or underspending to get ahead of those categories this year.
- Collaborate with your Central Office: Check in with your finance office to identify any major budget changes and work with them to make any budget amendments, if necessary.
- Study This Year’s Budget: Where are most of your funds going? How much is related to personnel v. non-personnel expenses?
B: Budget With the End in Mind
Next, take the time to revisit your spending plan to ensure your budget aligns with your spending goals for the year. You should think of your budget as a living, breathing tool that requires consistent updates as your circumstances change throughout the year.
How To Do It
- Reflect on Program or School Goals: Has your district developed strategic plans or achievement-based goals for future school years? If so, are your spending and encumbrances aligned to those goals? Where you put your money now reveals what your priorities for the year really are, so make adjustments as necessary.
- Inventory of Staff and Supplies: Do you have the right staffing in place as enrollment numbers solidify? Do you need more supplies?
- Expect the Unexpected: Do you have an emergency fund? If not, now is the time to create one.
C: Check Things Off
After assessing your account health and reviewing your current budget, it’s time to take action.
How To Do It
- Make Early Purchases: It’s better to plan ahead of time to ensure this year’s dollars benefit this year’s students. Early planning also allows you to compare prices and find the best deal to stretch your budget dollars a little further.
- Finalize Staffing: Finalize additional hires so the right people are in place at the start of the year.
- Identify Spending Deadlines: Take note of all spending deadlines and proactively draw on those funds so all available money is spent in the best way possible for your students.
Managing your budget doesn’t have to feel like an insurmountable task. Start by tackling one item on our checklist everyday till you’re caught up.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Allovue works with districts and state departments of education across the country to allocate, budget, and manage spending. Allovue's software suite integrates seamlessly with existing accounting systems to make sure every dollar works for every student. Allovue also provides additional services such as chart of accounts and funding formula revisions.