MTFP | Montana Public School Funding, In Pictures

The intricacies of school budgeting are also a perennial source of confusion for Montanans who would like to better understand where the money comes from and how it’s spent

MTFP | Montana Public School Funding, In Pictures
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Read the article at Montana Free Press by Alex Sakariassen and Eric Dietrich
“…Welcome to Big Rock Public Schools, a fictional elementary district that serves 640 students in kindergarten through eighth grade and employs about 51 licensed staff in a single school building. It’s roughly typical of Montana’s 235 elementary districts — neither especially big nor small, serving neither a particularly affluent nor low-income part of the state.
The graphic below represents the school district’s budget: all the things it has to spend money on in a given school year. The budget is approved each year by the district’s locally elected school board, though in some cases spending also requires voters’ endorsement.
We’re representing the budget for our fictional district as a cafeteria tray.
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Each compartment in the tray represents a portion of the district budget that’s typically segregated into its own account: teacher retirement payments, school bus upkeep and money set aside for building upgrades, among others. (Note that for simplicity’s sake we’ve lumped together a few separate-but-related accounts, like transportation operations and school bus replacement).
The most important account is the district’s General Fund, which is analogous to an individual household’s primary checking account. It’s the pot of money from which school administrators pay teachers, buy textbooks, fund extracurricular activities and cover other basic costs like utilities and liability insurance….”

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