Letter – ‘Best practice’ offers transparency on school budget

Published 6:03 pm Friday, March 10, 2023

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According to Virginia Code, school boards play a crucial role in the oversight of the budget submitted to them by the superintendent and have the authority to revise and to ultimately approve the budget. The norm and best practice of a transparent school board includes presenting and explaining the budget to their constituents. The budgeting process can be complex and challenging as it involves balancing the needs of students and employees while also considering the financial resources available. However, when done effectively, budgeting can help to ensure that schools have the necessary resources to provide students with a high-quality education.

One important aspect of school budgeting is ensuring that the budget aligns with the school district’s strategic plan. The board’s strategic plan outlines the goals and priorities of the school district, hence the budget should clearly reflect these goals. This may include allocating resources to areas that have been identified as priorities, such as improving student achievement, supporting professional development for teachers, and enhancing school safety. By aligning the budget with the strategic plan, the school district ensures that its resources are being used in a way that supports its long-term goals.

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Another important aspect of school budgeting must address schools that continue to struggle with student achievement, year after year. Budgets must reflect additional support and resources for these schools to improve. Allocating additional resources to these schools for specific teacher training, for classroom management or to fund an analysis of curriculum efficacy at these schools may be clearly designated within the budget.

Finally, presenting the budget at open town hall meetings in every borough well ahead of board approval, is a board “best practice” practiced by many school districts around the state and would benefit Suffolk. The budget belongs to the school board and is funded by taxpayer dollars. By engaging with the community in this way, Suffolk Public Schools would demonstrate collaboration with the community leading to greater stakeholder support for the school district.

Sherri Story