Each year, budget season challenges business leaders to anticipate incoming revenue amounts, project district spending needs, and strike a balance between the two. This paper outlines three factors that can impact district budgets: changes in revenue, changes in student population, and changes in staffing. It presents data analytics as a tool that business leaders can use to track annual fluctuations in these indicators, and it provides questions to ask when evaluating data to gain budgeting insights.

Like other businesses, schools are organizations that provide a service to their customers. They provide students with access to their right to an education. Like other organizations, they must do so without exceeding their financial means. This requires district business personnel to project income and expenses related to annual needs and goals. However, this task is not easily accomplished. According to the US Census, all states but Hawaii and the District of Columbia ended the 2020 fiscal year in debt for Public Elementary-Secondary School System spending. The size of states’ debts ranged from nearly $40 million in Wyoming to $90 billion in California. For most districts in these states, expenditures have vastly outpaced revenue. While some districts can cut expenses and balance their budgets, others must resort to deficit spending. School business leaders can play an integral role in keeping their districts in the green by considering future events and factors that may impact their district’s budget in the long term.

  • What key factors and events contribute to a balanced budget?
  • What indicators should school business leaders attend to?
  • How can data and analytics help?

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