Schools make dollars and sense out of budget proposals 

click to enlarge Schools create their budgets with elected School Site Councils, which include input from parents, teachers, students and more.
  • Schools create their budgets with elected School Site Councils, which include input from parents, teachers, students and more.
A few weeks ago, hundreds of parents, school staff and even some middle and high school students met on a Saturday morning to talk about school priorities and how to use their budgets to meet those priorities.

Are you surprised we have hundreds of people interested in talking about budgets? It’s true! And it’s not a new practice. This is a longstanding annual event for the San Francisco Unified School District.

Here’s how our schools create their budgets.

In February, schools receive an actual dollar-amount budget projection based on what the school district will receive from local, state and federal funding sources, and other factors involving each school’s projected enrollment and the needs of the students.

Then, the school’s elected School Site Council, made up of parents, teachers, staff, community members and students hauls out all sorts of data about the school gathered over the course of a year — test results, parent survey responses, attendance rates, student grades — to determine if the budget should go to the same things the following year.

This takes a few more meetings and a lot of talking. The school community at large needs a chance to look at proposals and ask questions. Teachers may want to weigh in on changes proposed, and students provide insight. After all the discussions, the team creates a plan and a budget to keep students moving in the right direction. Once it is approved by the team, it heads to our central office.

And here it gets more scrutiny. Our staff pores over the budget to make sure it complies with Board of Education policies, state and federal laws and many other requirements. They look at the school’s Balanced Score Card (a two-year plan for student success created by the school). The budget has to line up there, too.

Then, after some more discussions, and calculations, the school has a budget. A similar process goes on at a much larger scale to propose the district’s overall budget.

Last week, our schools began delivering their budgets to central office. That is no small feat. I applaud their efforts and am excited to see how they plan to keep their students moving in the right direction.

Money matters

Learn more about your School Site Council at

Curious about the SFUSD budget? Go to

Local Control Funding Formula explained:
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