The Budget

The annual budget is the financial plan for the operation of the school system. It provides the framework for both expenditures and revenues for the year and future years and translates into financial terms the district’s educational programs and objectives of the district. Colorado school districts are required to operate on a July 1–June 30 fiscal year. Board members are advised to become familiar with state law relating to school district budgets. [C.R.S. § 22-44-101 et seq.]

Budget adoption process

Generally, the board delegates to the superintendent overall responsibility for annual budget preparation, budget presentation and budget administration. As part of this responsibility, the superintendent should provide a budget preparation calendar that ensures the district meets all the deadlines established by law. The budget must be presented in a summary format that is understandable by a layperson. Many school districts choose to include staff and community input in the budget preparation process.

As part of the process, each school-level accountability committee must make recommendations to the principal relative to priorities for expenditures of district funds by the school. The information from school-level committees is shared with the district accountability committee. All of this information is taken into consideration on a district-wide basis as the budget is prepared.

It is the board’s responsibility to review the proposed budget in open session, make such changes as it may deem necessary and adopt a budget and appropriation resolution prior to the end of the fiscal year. After adoption of the budget, the board may review and change the budget with respect to both revenues and expenditures at any time prior to Jan. 31 of the fiscal year for which the budget was adopted. If money for a specific purpose other than property taxes becomes available to meet a contingency after Jan. 31, the board may adopt a supplemental budget for expenditures not to exceed that amount. Once adopted, the budget becomes the plan and legal authority for receiving and spending money.

Appeal for revenue increase

Total program funding received by a school district may not exceed the amount of total program funding allowed under the Finance Act unless the board holds a successful election to seek additional funds in November, either in conjunction with the general election or the regular school biennial election.

The maximum amount of additional local property tax revenue that can be requested from the voters cannot exceed 25 percent of the district’s total program funding for the first budget year in which the additional revenues will be collected, or $200,000, whichever is greater. Districts are advised to seek legal counsel about the specific procedures that must be followed in conducting the election and the requirements under the Fair Campaign Practices Act pertaining to this election.

Cash flow loan program

Upon application by a school district and approval by the state treasurer, any school district may participate in an interest-free loan program. The program is designed to mitigate the impact of collecting property taxes at the end of the fiscal year rather than at the beginning. This law allows the state treasurer to issue tax and revenue anticipation notes for school districts. Payments of principal on the notes will be made from property taxes as those revenues are received by the school district.