Making Sense of Student Based Budgeting

by Lori Morrow 

Last week, the principal at my daughter’s Prince George’s County elementary school presented information about Student Based Budgeting (SBB) at the monthly PTA meeting. She discussed projected enrollment, the current year’s staffing, and goals for next year.

Since the 2012-13 School Year, Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) have used the SBB budget model, which gives principals more control over staffing at their schools. In late winter, principals receive their projected enrollment and funding for the next school year. The school is allocated a base amount for each student, with additional funding for students in early grades, english-language learners, and lower performance levels.

Through collaboration with staff and inputs from the community, principals must choose staffing that will work best to meet the needs and goals of the school. During our PTA Meeting, the principal asked parents for feedback in six areas: Academics/Instruction; School Safety; Attendance/Incentives; School Climate; Building Maintenance; & Parent Involvement. She will use these inputs to balance staffing and resources in her budget.

In the SBB formula, some positions are classified as “Locked,” meaning that the positions and resources are funded and staffed by PGCPS central office. This includes staffing for Principals, Special Education, Food Services, and certain positions in Specialty Programs. Certain positions are “Locked+”, which means that central office staffs a minimum for these positions, but Principals can supplement with SBB funds. One such position is Media Specialist. All remaining positions are “Unlocked” and must be purchased through the school’s SBB allocation.

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Decisions made through the SBB process can have wide-ranging impacts on the school environment, to include things like class size, instructional supplies, field trips, and assemblies. Parents and community members are encouraged to participate in SBB discussions at your school, or contact the principal to share your thoughts. Understanding the PGCPS Budget process is an important piece to parent engagement.

You can find out more about the SBB process at

Read more about Locked vs. Unlocked positions here.


2 thoughts on “Making Sense of Student Based Budgeting

  1. Rosalind says:

    SSB “is supposed to work” with collaboration with staff, parents and community. BUT decisions are made without prior input from stakeholders, thus when the “final budget is available for viewing” most stakeholders do not know why certain budget decisions were finalized. Parents MUST be very vigilant to ensure that they know when decision making day and times on SSB are. Unfortunately, most PCCPS parents do not have the information nor the “how-to” to fully be a part of SSB decisions.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Saundra Saundra Jeter says:

    Its unfortunate that a newly structured program such as the Language Immersion program receives little support to ensure its continued success. I do believe that we, as parents are unaware of the “school budgeting” process and have to more involved in its development and implementation.


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