Original Date: 08/08/1994
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Budget Process
The Stafford County Schools budget process employs effective communication strategies to develop requirements and gain approval throughout the community. The budget summarizes all planned programs, providing an annual plan for coordinating the revenue and expenditures for the school system. The school system considers it very important to all stakeholders including parents, staff, and other taxpayers in the county. While some components of the process are regulated by the Code of Virginia, most are locally dictated and far exceed state norms.
Stafford County Public Schools did not have a documented budget process before 1985. In response to accelerated growth and a need for improved management, a budget process was developed, implemented, and continually improved to meet the changing need of the school system.
A key enabler of the budget process is the communication process at Stafford. A common practice throughout all business processes at the Stafford County Public Schools, numerous forums have been established to ensure a two-way flow of information that encompasses the ideas and concerns of all stakeholders. A budget calendar clearly defines the process with exact dates for input, meetings, and written requests. It is approved and distributed to all administrators, media, county staff, and the Board of Supervisors.
Scheduled opportunities for input are provided at several levels. At the site level, principals include and document input from staff, students, and parents. Representatives of employee groups are invited to make presentations to the School Board relevant to their needs and concerns. Support groups and other citizens are invited to address their needs to the School Board through a series of public hearings. There are also opportunities to explain the budget to interested parties. Special administrators' meetings are held to discuss specifics with each school site and department. Special sessions are held with the media to explain the budget and answer questions just prior to public release.
Formal presentation of the budget to the community is accomplished through a multi-media format with emphasis on graphical and visual representation of key information to make it easily understandable. Hard copies of the presentation are made available.
Two unique characteristics of the budget process also include the Board of Supervisors, which is responsible for budget management. The Board will allow a school to keep any surplus from one year to the next, and also allows the School Board to transfer up to $20K between categories in the budget without the Board of Supervisor's approval.
Stafford County Public Schools have successfully integrated the community into the budgetary process which has resulted in outstanding community support for the schools. And by allowing latitude in the way the funds are handled, the Board of Supervisors has promoted more efficient application of funds.
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