October 30, 2014
Shine a Light On: School Budget Committees
Please be advised that this Shine a Light is accurate as of October 30, 2014.
An open and transparent budgeting process provides teachers with a voice in establishing school funding priorities, while fostering a collaborative working environment.
Establish a School Budget Committee at your school. Learn best practices for developing an accountable budgeting process.
School Budget Committees provide oversight and promote consensus building. Without a committee the administration may act unilaterally to:
- Determine school fiscal priorities.
- Conceal the amount of the school budget and how it is being spent.
- Eliminate funding for long-standing school programs/activities.
- Allot funding resources to new activities/initiatives.
- Cut classroom budgets and subsidies for students (e.g. trip subsidies, travel for sports teams, physical education equipment, etc.).
- Dictate when, and if, funds are available to support teachers’ professional development.
- Decide which classes/programs are collapsed during a teacher absence.
Teachers want a collaborative, transparent, and accountable budgeting process to establish funding priorities and to ensure the fair and equitable distribution of resources.
Despite a TDSB policy calling for school-based budget committees to be in place, with teacher representation, this is not the reality in many schools.
Language in the Collective Agreement regarding School Budget Committees would ensure that all financial decisions in schools are made collaboratively. ETT has proposed language to this effect in the past, and will continue to work towards including it in the Collective Agreement.
Best Practices at Your School
- If your school does not have a budget committee, raise the issue at a staff meeting.
- A School Budget Committee should be convened each year, with elected representation from the teaching staff.
- The School Budget Committee reviews the fixed and variable school expenses and determines, through collaboration and consensus, the priorities for the school year and the extent of their funding.
- Budgeting priorities can include:
- Occasional Teachers
- Goals of the School Improvement Plan
- Professional Development for teachers
- Classroom budgets
- Special school projects
- The Budget Plan developed in the meetings should be distributed by mid-October.
- The committee should continue to meet on a regular basis to ensure that funds are being allocated according to the plan.
School Budget Committees are only part of the solution.
Due to inadequate Ministerial Funding for public education, the TDSB faces financial problems each year. At the school level, this becomes apparent with lack of funds for classrooms, professional development, school-wide activities, and other important student resources and programs.
A School Budget Committee, while not solving the larger financial problems, empowers teachers and helps to ensure that funding is used to benefit the whole school.