How much will your school spend this year?

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See how district’s site-based councils plan to use annual funds

By Meaghan Downs

As the school board finalizes its budget in September — and sets a new tax rate in the meantime — individual Anderson County schools already know how much money they’ll be able to spend this school year.
According to Finance Officer Nick Clark, site-based decision making councils, commonly referred to by the shorthand acronym SBDM, compile their own school budgets at the end of every school year.  
Each school receives a certain allotment (known as Section 6 funding according to Kentucky state statute) from the Board of Education based on enrollment numbers and a percentage of Support Education Excellence in Kentucky or SEEK funding.
Anderson County High School, with a projected ’13-14 enrollment of 1,120 students, has the highest allotment of funding at $121,509 for the school year, according to school budgets provided by Clark.
The Ezra Sparrow Early Childhood Center, with an anticipated 191 students, received the lowest discretionary allotment at $20,722 for the 2013-2014 school year.
This year, some council approved their budgets in early April. Others were voted on and approved by councils in late May.
Individual school budgets don’t need final budget approval of the superintendent, Clark said.
Each site-based council — made up of elected parent representatives, teachers and typically the school’s principal — draft a budget and vote on it for the upcoming school year.
The principal then officially approves the budget, and sends it to Clark at central office for review.
The SBDM funds are discretionary, Clark said, and can be used as the school principal and each council sees fit: on instruction, materials, classroom budgets and additional expenditures.
Some expenses are annual, but others are one-time expenditures.
Individual site-based councils also have the option of using carryover funding; last year the Anderson County Middle School used about $18,000 of carryover funds to help partially pay for 35 new laptops in May 2012.
Although the Board of Education’s general fund shoulders most of the burden for payroll (salary and benefits make up about 80 percent of the district’s overall budget), some schools haven chosen to add additional salary expenses if they’d like staff to work additional hours or days, Clark said.
Individual schools have to follow some of the same rules as the school board in that any expenditures over $5,000 have to be approved by the board, and any expense more than $20,000 has to be put on a bid list.
Although the budgets are approved before the school year begins, Clark said some site-based councils could receive more money from the Board of Education as the school year progresses if enrollment is higher than anticipated.