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 English Learners, and students who are designated “at-risk.”
Initial Funding Amount
Each school then receives an initial funding amount, or allocation, based on its unique population. This initial funding amount is determined by the Updated Budget Model that includes enrollment based, targeted support, and stability funding – which are allocated through the following four different categories:
Student Based Funds
The updated budget model combines the strengths of a staff-based funding model and student-based funding model to ensure that all schools have the flexibility needed to provide equitable learning opportunities aligned to their students’ needs. Student-based school budgets are based on the expected student enrollment count for the upcoming school year. This count 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.
Staffing Ratio Allocations
In addition to student-based dollars, the updated budget model also includes funding allocations based on staff and faculty counts. These staffing ratios ensure that essential services, such as special education and English language instruction, are resourced to schools that need these educators and staff most.
Program Grant Allocations
In addition to student- and staff-based dollars, the budget model includes funding allocations for supplemental program grants that are specific to school needs. Schools will receive additional funds to support students with greater needs. A key program grant that DCPS schools will receive is for at-risk student populations.
Stability Funding Allocations
As DC Public Schools continue to experience shifts in enrollment, it is important that our budget model effectively supports schools of all sizes. The updated budget model was designed to provide schools with year-over-year stability funds, with safety net checks and stabilization dollars that will protect school budgets from the impact of fluctuating enrollment and ensure that schools can afford a baseline level of general education services with their student-based funds.
While Stabilization law requires that all schools receive at least 95% of their previous year school budgets (exceptions are allowed), in FY23, DCPS will provide additional stability for schools by ensuring that no school receives less than their FY22 March submitted budget through Hold Harmless Funds. To provide DCPS schools with stability during the pandemic, schools may receive one-time Mayor’s Recovery Funds.
School Budget Development
Principals 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) 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 CSM provides funding to schools through dollar allocations 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 (Mostly Locked Positions): Rarely flexible – Schools must seek permission to alter these allocations as they are upheld by DC graduation requirements, DC Code, and/or local or federal requirements. If allowed, the request shifts the allocation within the program for its intended use. For example, schools may request to swap one special education position for another.
- Level 2 (Includes required positions): Flexible with petition – Schools must seek permission from their Instructional Superintendent to alter these allocations.
- Level 3 (Flexible positions): Fully flexible – Schools receive funding for a position or initiative but are not required to budget for that position or initiative; the funds are budgeted at the discretion of the principal.
Requesting Changes: Principals submit petitions in the budget application for review by Instructional Superintendents.
Budget Review and approval by DC Council
DCPS principals submit their school budgets in a 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.