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The most important question to ask every year is:
• How does this budget support our district goals?
Your budget is not simply an allocation of funds: it is a statement of district priorities and a plan of action on how you will reach the goals you've set for your district.
With that in mind, you should be prepared to ask concrete questions on what the budget does for your district. The following is a beginning, but this is by no means a complete list! As always, some questions will vary by district.
• What process did the administration follow in putting the budget together? Who was consulted?
• What are the projections being used in revenue and in expenses? How were those determined?
• What proportion of our revenue comes from the state? From local sources? (For regionals: from which town?)
• How are allocations by school determined?
• Which cost centers of our budget are growing? Which are shrinking?
• What changes are or can be made for the cost centers that are growing most rapidly? Is this sustainable?
• What impact will this budget have on classroom enrollment (by grade, by school, by subject)? What impact with those decisions have on our district goals?
• Are our staffing levels changing? If so, where? Why was that choice made?
• What contractual agreements are not settled? How is this provided for within the contract?
• Are there services being added or being cut this year? What impact will that have on students (in general, in vulnerable populations)? How does that impact our district goals?
• Is this budget predicated on charging fees? How much, for what, and to whom? How much is it projected that will bring in? How will those dollars be allocated? Is a waiver of fees being offered and how?
• What grants does the district expect to receive next year? How will those be allocated? To what commitments is the district agreeing by virtue of receiving the grants?
• Does this budget include the use of revolving funds? Are those funds being allocated in line with what the fund designates? Is this a sustainable funding source?
• What revenue accounted for in the budget is via state reimbursement? What projections are being used for that source?