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 Comprehensive Staffing Model (CSM):

Personnel Allocations: Through classroom counts and staffing ratios, the Comprehensive Staffing Model (CSM) is designed to ensure that all schools have enough funding for positions so students across the city have access to a high-quality educational experience.

Non-Personnel Allocations: Each school receives funding for non-personnel investments, such as funding for technology and supplies. The amount of non-personnel funding is based on a per student formula.

Supplemental Funds: Eligible schools receive supplements to local funding from federal, and intra-district funding sources including Title funding, at-risk funding, and stabilization funding, among others. Additionally, some schools offer specialized programming, such as the International Baccalaureate or Pool program, and are allocated funding and/or staff for these initiatives.

Not included in Initial Allocations: Schools can be part of initiatives funded by Central Office, both locally and non-locally funded. For example, high schools with Career and Technical Education (CTE) programming can receive funding support from the Perkins 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 resources.

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 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.