Honestly, we always begin with the previous year's budget. Because we are an REAA, our budget does not tend to change dramatically from one year to the next. We use the previous year's budget as a starting point and review our expenditures from the year. Did we overspend in certain areas? Underspend? Do we need to add positions? Eliminate programs? Expand opportunities? What are the financial implications of the things we would like to do? Need to do? Must do?
The Director of Finance prepares a preliminary budget, based on what we believe our funding will be, and meets with the Superintendent to review the initial recommendations. All of this information is then presented to the Board of Education's Budget Committee members, who provide input. Budget presentations are then made to each of the Advisory School Boards (ASBs) and school staffs, where additional input is invited. Based on this input, the preliminary budget is adjusted and tweaked to reflect local needs and priorities.
Meanwhile, budget work is often happening while we are hiring new staff for the coming school year. Each of these "new hires" will impact they budget, as they may be more or less costly (in terms of salary) than a person retiring or leaving the district. For the Director of Finance, the budget is truly a process (as in, she works on it every single day!), rather than being a one-time event! A lot of projecting must occur, as well, as the current school year has not yet concluded, so we don't know exactly how much we will spend on things like energy and fuel. There is both an art and a science to educational finance!