Each school and school system has its own challenges. Depending on where you are located in the country and around the world, these challenges are varied and often reliant on the local tax system, local economic development, or tuition and donations from your school community. In this Discussion, you must interview the local budget director from your local public school system or the budget director from a local private school. In this interview, you should get a feel for the budget challenges based on the local funding system, fixed cost expenditures, costs for human capital, and strategic planning. For your thread, write a summary of the interview.
Please review the Discussion Assignment Instructions downloadand Discussion Grading Rubric downloadprior to posting. You may also click the three dots in the upper corner to Show Rubric.
After consulting the Learn material in Module 4: Week 4 and information from your own research, reply to at least 2 of your classmates threads from Module 3: Week 3. Include information pertaining to school finance that has a direct impact on you, your school, district, or local municipality. You must include support from the Module 4: Week 4 Watch item to strengthen your reply. You may also use outside sources.
Post-First: This course utilizes the Post-First feature in all Discussions. This means you will only be able to read and interact with your classmates threads after you have submitted your thread in response to the provided prompt.
reply to the following:
For this interview, I talked with our Chief Financial Officer of the Aiken County Public School District (ACPSD) in South Carolina. From what I expected, budget cuts from Covid-19 and teacher salaries was the biggest issue in forming the budget for the entire school district this year. At the elementary level, strategic planning meetings take place before the budget can be started for the next school year. Teacher allocations from the state and student projections for each school need to be taken into consideration (T. Traxler, personal communication, April 6, 2021). A meeting is held with elementary principals to determine class sizes and the projected amount of teachers that will be needed in the schools. According to T. Traxler, ninety percent of the $210,000,000 operating budget of the school system is tied to salaries (personal communication, April 6, 2021). The most important part of the budget is to anticipate step increases and standard of living increases before determining the amount of teachers that are needed. Another challenge in determining the salary budget is that the school district I work in has a higher pay scale than that of the state. The state is willing to fund their minimum salary cap; however, the school district has to make up the rest through their local fund, which comes from property taxes (T. Traxler, personal communication, April 6, 2021). This puts a dent in the school operating budget as well. In order to be competitive with other school districts across the state and in neighboring districts, this specific school system has made it a priority to increase salaries for all teachers; however, they have to find the money through local options to create a competitive salary schedule.
Another challenge that came up this past year in the operating budget is the step increase that the state determines. At the beginning of the year, the state of South Carolina froze salary steps in an effort to sustain school budgets amidst coronavirus concerns. Anticipating that this was going to cause a hardship on teachers, this district gave out Christmas bonuses based on years worked in the school system. They gave out these massive bonuses, but then it was required by the state to give a mid-year step increase. T. Traxler stated that legislation came through the state house in the middle of January saying that school districts were required to now give step raises to all teachers in their district and it had to be in a lump sum (personal communication, April 6, 2021). The problem with this step increase was that the state was willing to pay their minimum step increase; however, this districts step increase is higher than the state minimum. Salaries and other benefits are not generated spontaneously; they must come from somewhere and the school budgets are already overburdened by state mandates (Brimley et al., 2021). T. Traxler stated that this district had to use reserve funds to create this lump sum and make up for the bonuses that were given in December for all teachers; and this district sets a priority on giving all employees a step increase, not just certified teachers, so they had to find the funds to also give all employees a raise (personal communication, April 6, 2021). Because this mid-year step increase was required by the state, it has been a significant challenge in making this possible for this school district.
Another challenge in the budget is to sustain the step increases for teachers and employees in this district. Brimley et al. (2020) states, the general purpose of the compensation process is to allocate resources for salaries, wages, benefits, and rewards in a manner that will attract and retain a school staff who can teacher and prepare pupils well (p. 422). As a part of their strategic planning, this district wants to increase the steps up to 28 years of employment. T. Traxler noted that the state only goes to year 24 and it is one of the goals of this district to retain teachers and also pay them above what the state minimum is so they can stay competitive with other districts (personal communication, April 6, 2021). This district has had to use reserve funds and budget increases to create this competitive salary schedule to retain and attract teachers.
There are many challenges that affect a school system budget. However, staying competitive in the market of retention and attraction of teachers is a main challenge for this school district. State mandates of bonuses and step increases and coronavirus concerns have caused a big burden on the already tight budget this district has. Also, staying competitive with districts nearby is a big goal of ACPSD. These mandates have forced this district to use local and reserve funds that would not normally be used to make up for budget cuts.
Brimley, V., Verstegen, D. A., & Knoeppel, R. C. (2020). Financing education in a climate of change (13th ed). Pearson Education, Inc.