Breaking Down School Budgets

Making a School Budget

Making a School BudgetMany administrators find the creation and maintaining of school budgets a great challenge. Similar to household finances, one must not only honestly evaluate needs but also have a clear idea of where money is being spent and how to cut back or even increase expenditures where necessary.


Although budget requirements vary from district to district and even state to state, there are some broad categories which should be taken into account when creating  school budgets.


Here are some of the main areas to consider:


  • Maintenance costs, including materials and workers, to assure that the building is clean and safe (remember to include parking lot and grounds maintenance). Additionally, note plumbing and electrical repairs, painting, floor, ceiling and even school bell repairs. Take into account supplies such as toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, light bulbs, pails, mops, copy machine paper, etc.
  • Busses and drivers for student transportation
  • Electricity costs for heating, cooling, lighting, and other areas, such as for the computer lab
  • School nurse and security personnel salaries and supplies
  • Qualified teachers, instructional aides and classroom provisions
  • Curriculum and staff development training expenses
  • The outlay for cafeteria employees and a properly stocked kitchen which provides nutritious and affordable breakfasts and lunches
  • An up-to-date and well organized library including knowledgeable staff
  • Well-trained counselors for handling testing preparation, college admission services, drug/alcohol abuse programs, and family needs
  • Salaries and supplies for an effective principal, assistant principals and administrative support team
  • Insurance, sick and vacation day payrolls and other benefits
  • Gardener salaries and supplies
  • School machinery and equipment costs and maintenance including for the office, classroom, sports equipment like basketballs and hoops, footballs, baseballs, etc. as well as materials to support the band and other extra curricular clubs and activities.


Anyone who has created an accurate and working school budget knows that it can be a daunting task. Hopefully, including the above areas will ease the process.


Please share any of your budget cutting wisdom and/or success stories. We’d love to hear from you.


4 Responses to Breaking Down School Budgets

  1. R. Drew Davis says:

    Should capital expenses (long-lasting equipment) be planned separately?

    I think I’d lump the gardener in with the maintenance item, but break out the paper and copying machines into educational expenses.

    Ideally, the budget needs to be turned into a parameterized spreadsheet so you can tweak number of students and class size limits and see the numbers adjust accordingly.

    Guidance counselors are just part of the “administrative support team” in your model?

    For planning purposes, I think I’d try to break out “advanced” classes and “vocational” classes as separate planning areas. Extracurricular “clubs” budget? Sports team perhaps can be carried in with “clubs”. Probably a non-trivial item.

    • Tsivya Fox says:

      Thanks for your good suggestions. As noted, these are suggested pieces of information to be considered when making a budget. Each school needs to create their budget in a way that best works for them. Your idea of a working spreadsheet will save a lot of time and energy in the long one. Great idea!

      As for capital expenses, I have heard of two ways of dealing with these. One is to work into the budget “miscellaneous” expenses-a lump sum for a large or unexpected expense. Another is to build into the budget a buffer for expenses so that after a period of time, you will hopefully have extra money for when it’s time to make that big purchase.

  2. Fran says:

    This is great information and helped me a bundle.

    Thanks again Hertz,

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