The proposed expenditure budget is $823 million for 2010-2011. This amount consists of anticipated revenue of $800.7 million and $22.3 million from the projected 2010-2011 operating reserve. The revenue reflects an enrolment of 79,799 students. This is a decrease of 95 students from the previous year.
School expenditures form the majority of the district's operating budget. Seventy eight per cent of the district's budget is planned directly by the schools with input from staff, students, parents, and the community. School budgets are planned based on allocations provided to the schools as well as on local revenue collected at the school. Each school receives an allocation of dollars with which to plan the number of staff and the supplies, equipment and services they need to provide the best possible program for all students. The allocation is based primarily on the number and categories of the students enrolled at the school.
Although schools are allocated approximately 80 per cent of the total budget, the District does not have the discretion to allocate the revenue for Debt Service, Metro Continuing Education or Student Transportation. Therefore, when the revenue that is available to allocate is taken into consideration, 89 per cent of these dollars are in the schools.
In 1976-77, seven schools were selected to pilot the concept of school based decision-making. Allocations for these schools were established, and the pilot schools were responsible for planning the school programs inclusive of expenditures for staff, supplies, equipment and services including utilities. This provided school staffs with a greater opportunity for involvement in the decision-making process.
Staff in schools were not only capable of making good decisions but also had better information about each particular school's needs than someone removed from the local situation. When staff are involved in decisions that affect them and their students, they develop a stronger sense of commitment and ownership for the implementation of the decision than when it is "handed down from above". It was important that staff believe that their involvement was real, not just window dressing and to that end, in 1980-81, the board approved a process that provided allocations to all schools in order to prepare proposed budgets for consideration and approval by board.
In order to allocate resources to the schools, it was necessary to develop a mechanism that would ensure an equitable distribution of resources among all the schools. The first step in the development of the basis of allocation was to determine what portion of the funds previously budgeted in central services were expended directly for school operating purposes. An analysis of previous years' budgets indicated that approximately 70 per cent of the district's expenditures were made directly for school purposes. The analysis reflected central services staff estimates as well as expenditure patterns in the seven pilot schools. Given that this was the first attempt to determine actual expenditures for schools, there were no precise formulae available to use in arriving at the 70 per cent figure. Over the next ten years, however, this 70 per cent level of resources provided to schools remained relatively constant and is now gradually increasing as more responsibilities and resources are decentralized to schools.
The next step in the development of the basis of allocation was to find a way to distribute the available resources among all of the schools in the District. In the first year of allocations to schools, a school's resource allocation was made up of a large number of individual components that related directly to previously centralized expenditures. This was necessary in order to make an identifiable transition from a well established centralized budgeting and planning approach to a decentralized approach. School allocation components identified resources for such items as photocopier rental costs, telephone rentals, teaching staff, support staff, substitute staff, administrator's allowances, desk and equipment repair.
The major factor which generated allocations was the student population in a school. For the 1980-81 allocations, a basic per student rate was established along with a set of weighting factors for the various regular programs and for students with special needs. The net result was a set of student weighting factors along with a number of additional categories for the calculation of resource allocations to schools.
Although the process was extremely detailed, it was considered essential to identify for each school the factors upon which the allocation was based and on what basis the allocation had been calculated. At that time, the calculation of each school's allocation was both labour intensive and time consuming in that each school's calculation was done manually.
In 1981-82 emphasis was placed on simplifying the allocation process and on increasing the extent to which allocations were student driven. A set of per student rates was developed along with a reduced number of identified additional categories for allocations, including that which provided funds for custodial costs in schools.
During this period, the District also assumed responsibility for the education of severely handicapped students. To provide resource allocations for these students, various approaches for allocating resources for students with moderate and severe handicapping conditions were considered. These approaches ranged from "class" allocations to per student rates on a sliding scale based on enrolment. For 1981-82, an allocation table for students with special needs was developed. This table reflected the belief that when a number of students with similar needs were grouped together, the level of resources required to meet their needs would begin to stabilize.
By 1983-84, per student rates had been refined to the extent that custodial allocations were included in the per student allocation and allocation rates for students with special needs were stabilized on a per student basis.
By 1985-86 there were 21 separate allocation rates, even though the differences among some of the rates were relatively small. This reflected attempts to improve the basis by more precisely defining differences in student needs. It became apparent that continued development in this direction would ultimately result, if pursued to the extreme, in a separate allocation category for each student in the District.
A complete review was undertaken for the 1986-87 basis of allocation. Advances in technology provided us with an improved ability to calculate allocations. It was no longer a necessity to calculate each school's allocation individually. This made it possible to examine the impact of any proposed changes on all district schools within a very short timeframe.
The extensive review of the basis of allocation for 1986-87 resulted in the establishment of an 11 level basis. This was achieved by grouping allocation categories for students with similar needs into allocation "levels".
Since 1986-87, some minor changes have been made to the allocation categories and the number of levels is currently at eight. 1986-87 also saw the beginning of the Consulting Services Project in which schools received an allocation for consulting services and were able to determine the nature and extent of the consulting services provided to them through the purchase of service at an hourly or daily rate or by adding to staff at the school. Following a pilot project the board approved extension of the project to all schools on an opt-in basis.
By 1989-90 it was apparent that allocations made on the basis of students with special needs were increasing to the extent that concern was expressed about the impact of the amount of resources available for the "regular" program. As a result a ceiling was placed on the amount that could be allocated to special needs (excluding Gifted and Talented and English As A Second Language). This amount was not to exceed 12 per cent of the basic allocation provided for all students. With the continued increase in the percentage of students with special needs this "12 per cent cap" has gradually reduced the differences between the allocation rates for special needs and the basic (Level 1) allocation rate.
The past twenty years have seen increased staff and community interest in the basis of allocation as staff, students, parents, and community members work more closely to plan the distribution of resources to achieve the school's planned results. The annual review of the basis of allocation has become a key element in the district's budget planning process. The purpose for the review is to improve the extent to which the basis provides for an equitable distribution of resources and to identify and examine possible changes to the basis in response to changing circumstances. The major criteria considered in the review and in determining proposed changes are:
- all resources available for allocation to schools are distributed equitably in accordance with responsibility for results; and
- allocations are student driven; and
- the number of allocation categories is minimized; and
- the basis of allocation is accepted, understood, and supported by all concerned; and
- the information on which allocations are based is clear, consistent, and easily obtainable; and
- the administrative cost of allocating resources is minimized.
Changes to the basis of allocation are recommended on an annual basis to the superintendent by a representative committee of principals.