Solanco Guiding Principles
A. Guiding Principles for our process of budget building:
1. We will plan our annual budget using a 2-4 year strategy.
Explanations: We will trend expenses, project revenues and expenditures, and review our financial needs over a 24-48 month period. The budget will be developed year-to-year, but we will continue to look at projections to see where each year’s budget will lead us.
• Example 1: our plan for attritional savings takes into account the retirements expected over the next four years.
• Example 2: when we saw that the federal funds were going to be eliminated in two years, we used the money to purchase equipment and materials to offset later expenditures. We did not use the one-time money for repeated expenses.
2. We will strive to keep our expenditures level with our revenues.
Explanation: We budget with fund balance helping us make up revenue, but during the year we look for ways to pull back on expenditures (i.e. strategic purchasing, reduction in what we order, more efficient operations, etc.). We will look to enhance revenues or reduce expenditures to ensure that we maintain control of our fund balance. As opportunities arise and attritional savings can be accrued, we will reduce the dependency.
• Example 1: We budget to provide items, we do not budget to give buildings or departments a set amount of money. If we are able to purchase items for less than originally planned, the difference reduces our expenses.
3. We will first examine if there is a better, more efficient way to do business before we eliminate programs, services or staff.
Explanation: Continuously throughout the year we will examine all of our operations to ensure we are using the most efficient processes we know.
• Example 1: We reviewed our bus routes, which had been reviewed in several years, to create more efficient routes, thus eliminating the need for several buses.
• Example 2: We are working with the IU on a pilot project to collaborate with other districts for the busing of non-public students to schools. This will be a more efficient manner of providing transportation because the routes will be more direct and the cost shared among districts.
• Example 3: We have eliminated many mailings home, and instead will send the information home and then will use a phone notification call to let parents know their children have some important information.
4. Decisions on cuts to district programs will begin with a review of operations and non-instructional areas before considering cuts that would impact the classroom.
Explanation: We will follow the concentric circles model, starting first with expenses away from classroom.
• Example 1: We eliminated the opening day breakfast for staff.
• Example 2: Coaches’ clinics will be paid by booster clubs rather than district.
5. Innovation will be the first response to cost saving strategies. We will seek out appropriate revenue enhancing and cost avoiding strategies to help balance revenues and expenditures.
• Example 1: SVA instruction taken into classroom and eliminating SVA supplemental costs while building capacity for more students.
• Example 2: The cyber school educational reimbursement grant.
• Example 3: Developing online and blended courses to offer to students in the high school with the possibility of lessening the actual number of students in the building taking classes at any time.
• Example 4; The feasibility study provides the opportunity to combine the two middle schools which will address physical and curriculum needs in the district while giving us a chance to be more efficient in our staffing.
• Example 5: Open source software provides the students and staff with all of the capabilities of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc., without the cost of licenses and upgraded software.
6. The impact on students will be a consideration in any decision on cuts to district programs.
Explanation: The discussion will include an analysis of the number of students impacted; however, the decision will not be based solely on that factor. We recognize that any cut to staff or program will impact students so the discussion needs to address the number of students impacted and the significance of the impact.
• Example 1: Behind the Wheel practice will not be funded by the district, but will still be available to students who really want it.
• Example 2: Young Farmers does not address the needs of any of our students.
• Example 3: Dropping enrollment in German results in our phasing out German as a third language offered at the high school.
7. The resources that are critical for the core business of instruction will be provided.
• Example 1: We developed a new 8th Grade science course, so we need the appropriate textbooks to support that.
• Example 2: The elementary music classes were not approved for textbooks since the curriculum has been built to be taught without textbooks, and these were going to be used an additional resource rather than integral part of the course.
• Example 3: Computer classes have access to instructional and tutorial information through the Help function with every program, so separate textbooks are not necessary.
• Example 4: Faulty equipment in FACS room is immediately repaired or replaced.
8. Any proposed new program or program expansion will be vetted by determining how it will be sustained in this economic situation.
• Example 1: We are developing online and blended courses at the high school, which will provide capacity for students to take courses but not be in classroom. The cost of professional development and the integration of the online courses will be covered either by services already provided by contracted vendors (such as BlendedSchools.net).
9. We will explore partnerships and collaboration to offset or share costs for programs, services and staff.
• Example 1: Several districts in the IU are collaborating on the pilot transportation project for non-public schools.
• Example 2: We are working with CompassMark to provide additional support to our elementary guidance counselors through mentoring and counseling sessions.
• Example 3: We are exploring business partnerships for advertising at our sports facilities as a means of enhancing revenues.
B. Guiding Principles on the Outcome of the Budget Process:
1. Students should be demonstrating a year’s growth in their learning every year that they are in school.
2. Our core business is ensuring our students are literate, use higher level thinking skills, and demonstrate mastery of appropriate communication, problem solving, and social skills. The targets that would ensure we are attending to our core business would include:
i. 100% of our students graduate;
ii. Our students are reading on grade level, beginning in the primary grades;
iii. 100% of our students demonstrate the social skills established through our Solanco Expectations
iv. The school district provides courses that meet state and national standards
v. 100% of the teachers and administrators have the skills to provide instruction in research-based, best practices.
3. The primary grades are critical to the foundation of a student’s education. The integrity of the programming at the primary grades is a priority.