DCPS Budget Process


School budgets are based on the expected student enrollment count for the upcoming school year. This is determined using historical enrollment data and factors that affect enrollment including new housing developments, new schools, and grade level sizes matriculating through schools and feeder patterns.

Each school begins with an expected student enrollment count for the upcoming year. This is an estimated number of students by grade, students who receive special education services, students who are Multilingual Learners, and students who are designated “at-risk.”

Initial Funding Amount

Funds are distributed to a school based on its student and staff projection, with additional targeted support provided for students with greater need, while ensuring that schools are provided stability during year-over-year enrollment transitions.

Enrollment-Based: Through our baseline funding, schools will receive a majority of their funds based on student enrollment, which also impacts personnel counts such as educators and administrators. This will provide a foundation of excellence for every student in every school across the district. 

Targeted Support: With an equity supplement, schools will receive greater funds for special student populations including at-risk, special education, and English learners among others.

Stability: This stability check will minimize shifts in budget through safety net and stabilization funds to ensure successful year to year transitions.

Not Included in Initial Allocations: It is possible that some schools are part of initiatives funded by Central Services with both local and non-local funding. For example, some schools receive funding from the McKinney-Vento grant, schools can receive curriculum and coaching support through partnerships funded by the Office of Teaching and Learning (OTL), and schools can apply for private grants throughout the year. These dollars will not show up on initial budget allocation worksheets, and some may never be included on the school’s actual budget, but schools still receive these resources.

School Budget Development

Principals have many considerations to keep in mind when developing their budget.  Some of these considerations include student achievement data and students’ social emotional learning. With these things in mind, Principals mostly develop their budget from their allocation by:

Engaging their teams and reviewing their Comprehensive School Plan: Principals work with their schools’ Local School Advisory Team (LSAT) and staff in developing their budgets. Principals and LSATs review the comprehensive school plan and gather additional input from teachers, staff, families, and communities.

Budgeting with Required and Flexible Allocations: The updated budget model provides funding to schools for positions, programs, and non-personnel dollars. Each allocation is designated a level of flexibility (1-3) that determines how the funds can be budgeted.

  • Level 1 (Required – Locked): These allocations are unable to be changed. This may be determined by fund source requirements or allowability, such as grants and Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs), legal requirements, or other core operational considerations. 
  • Level 2 (Required – Rarely flexible): Any shift in the allocation will maintain the intended purpose of the original allocation. Principals must demonstrate how they will meet related programmatic requirements. 
  • Level 3 (Flexible): These allocations are provided to schools to budget for staff and programming. 

Requesting Changes: Changes made to Level 2 allocations through budget petitions will be reviewed holistically by Instructional Superintendents and Principals to ensure all requirements are still met.

Budget Review and Approval by DC Council

DCPS principals submit their school budgets in the Quickbase budget application. School budgets are part of the proposed agency budget, which is sent to the Mayor. The Mayor submits the DCPS budget with other agency budgets to the DC Council for approval. The DC Council reviews the budget, holds a hearing, and can make changes or additions to the proposed budget. The U.S. Congress ultimately approves the budget.