District perspective and intent in developing the 2012-13 budget proposal
by Robert J. O'Donnell, superintendent of schools
During the past three months, my focus has been on learning about our school district and community through the lenses of other people. My interactions with students and staff continue to reinforce my feeling that our daily work is well aligned with preparing our students for future success. Moving forward, it is clear that sound fiscal decisions are critical to both our school district and entire community. My goal with this message is to outline the district perspective and intent to develop the 2012-13 budget proposal.
Both private and public sector organizations continue to experience challenging financial times. For the 2012-2013 budget development process, we will have focused conversations during our school board meetings about our district’s programs, staffing and services earlier in the school year. The reason is three-fold. First, we want to generate a budget proposal for the 2012-2013 that is feasible within the current Pennsylvania Act 1 parameters. Second, it allows our community members the opportunity to share feedback with our administrative staff and board relating to community priorities. Third, the process gives our board time to digest the wide range of focused reports and community feedback about current costs, rationale for practices, analyses of those practices, and administrative recommendations moving forward.
To help inform the development of our budget proposal, we will thoughtfully and methodically analyze with staff members throughout the year each of the following aspects of our district:
The intent of this process is to develop a budget for 2012-2013 that maintains our focus on teaching and learning, while maximizing efficiency within our organization and minimizing the need for layoffs.
- administration at building and program level
- community education
- extracurricular programs
- instructional programs (required and non-required)
- physical plant
- student services
- transportation services
Due to Pennsylvania’s public school funding formula, our district’s annual budget is comprised of approximately 83% from local revenue sources: property taxes, real estate transfer taxes, short-term investment interest, and income taxes. State and federal funds account for the remaining 17%. These three revenue sources are growing at a significantly slower rate, or even shrinking, which means fewer resources for our budget planning.
From my perspective, classroom learning experiences that benefit all students need to be our highest priority. The reason for this focus is that improved student achievement affords our young people increased opportunities. As we work through the budget development process this year, we will look to our students, staff, parents, and entire community to share their thinking regarding our efforts to meet the rising academic expectations of our students while accounting for the current state of the economy. If you know a district staff member, please ask her/him about the great work occurring in our schools. We have an exceptional school district with much to be proud of, and with your involvement we will continue to improve.
In future district communications, we will share important aspects of our work, including district goals, and also details relating to the next steps of our district-wide facility master plan.
This article appeared in the Centre Daily Times and StateCollege.com in Fall 2011.