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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