Free School Budget Planning Worksheet: Example & Template



Download the Free School Budget Template & Example

Finance professionals in K-12 districts have plenty on their plate, which is why we hired Jim Rollo, a K-12 finance professional with decades of experience to build a school budget planning worksheet resource, which includes a template and a sample.

Whether you’re building a budget from scratch or looking for an example of a school budget template to optimize the materials you already use, James’s resource is a great place to start. We also include a few of his tips for making the school budget process run a little more smoothly to help you simplify the time-consuming process.

Don’t Start from Scratch – Use Our School Budget Planning Worksheet Resource

Using a free school budget template will help you simplify the process. It will show you what a professional with decades of experience uses to build clean budgets year after year. The school budget example included in our free school budget planning worksheet resource will also help you see how James builds clean budgets.


Make the process of building budgets much simpler. Download the free resource!

9 Tips to Use with Your Example of a School Budget & Worksheet Template

Creating and following a budget is essential for any school, whether public or private, big or small. But developing and sticking to a budget can be especially challenging for K-12 schools, which often have many stakeholders with competing interests. Here are four tips to help you create a K-12 school budget and four tips to get more from budget templates and examples:

1. Develop a Budget Calendar

As a school administrator, one of your primary responsibilities is creating and managing a budget that meets the needs of your students and staff. While there are many factors to consider when developing a school budget planning worksheet, one of the most important is creating a timeline that ensures all expenses are accounted for.

  • Start by creating a list of all the expenses your school will incur in a year, including everything from salaries and benefits to utility bills and maintenance costs.
  • Once you have a complete list of expenses, start assigning each one to a month on the calendar. Some expenses, like salaries, will need to be paid every month, while others like utility bills, may vary from month to month.
  • Once all your expenses are accounted for, start planning for revenue including tuition payments, state and federal funding, and private donations.
  • As you develop your budget calendar, leave room for unexpected expenses, which will ensure that your school is prepared for anything throughout the year. This can easily be seen in our example of a school budget.

2. Leverage Broker Projections

Using broker projections can help you anticipate future expenses and income and make more informed decisions about allocating your resources. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when using broker projections to create your school budget planning worksheet:

  1. Understand the different types of broker projections.
  2. Use multiple sources of information to get a well-rounded picture.
  3. Pay attention to trends over time.
  4. Make sure the projection is realistic and achievable.
  5. Use the projection as a starting point, not a final determination.
  6. In general, health insurance is always the most significant expense in the benefit category.

3. Rank Line-Item Submissions

There are a few different ways to approach ranking line items for your school budget planning worksheet. One method is to look at the big picture and identify which items are most important to the school's overall functioning. Another approach is to focus on specific areas, such as academic programs or extracurricular activities and prioritize accordingly.

Whichever method you choose, there are a few general tips to keep in mind when ranking line items for your school budget:

  • Make sure you have a clear understanding of your school's finances, including knowing how much money is available to allocate to the various line items.
  • Consider all stakeholders when making budget decisions, including students, parents, teachers and other staff members.
  • Be realistic about what can be achieved within the budget. There may be some desirable but not feasible items given the financial constraints.
  • Prioritize items that directly impact student learning. This is the primary focus of any school budget and should be carefully considered.
  • Make sure there is a balance between academic and non-academic items. While academics are the priority, extracurricular activities and other non-academic line items can also play an essential role in a student's education.

4. Develop Three School Budgets

When it comes to schools and budgets, the end of the year can be a tricky time. Many variables can come into play and having a main budget and two backup plans can help take some of the stress out of the situation. Here are three tips for creating school budgets that will help you plan for the unexpected:

  • Make sure to include all potential revenue sources in your budget, including grants, private donations and state/federal funding.
  • Don't forget to account for one-time expenses, such as repairs or new equipment purchases.
  • Have a contingency fund set aside in case of unforeseen circumstances, which can help cover unexpected costs or help make up for revenue shortfalls. If you are looking for an example of this, please consult our example of a school budget!

How You Can Better Use the School Budget Templates and Examples

School budgeting can be a time-consuming and challenging process, but it doesn't have to be. With the right tools, a little bit of know-how and building on the previous tips we mentioned, you can easily create a budget that works for your school.

5. Understand the Previous Year's School Budget

One of the most important things you can do when creating a school budget example is understanding the previous year's budget. This will give you a good starting point for estimating income and expenses for the upcoming year.

6. Make Assumptions

Next, make assumptions about what will happen in the coming year. Will enrollment increase or decrease? What new programs will be added? What costs are likely to go up or down? Establishing these assumptions early on will help you create a more accurate budget.

7. Establish Priorities with the Administrative Team

Once you understand the previous year's budget and your assumptions for the coming year, it's time to establish priorities with the administrative team. What are the most important things that need to be funded? How can you save money in other areas?

8. Budgeting for Staff Expenses

Finally, budget for staff expenses. This includes salaries, benefits and professional development. Be sure to include all potential costs so you don't find yourself short on funds later on.

School budgeting is a complex process that can be overwhelming for those unfamiliar with it. However, by following the tips we've outlined and using the school budget templates and examples as a guide, you should be able to develop a budget that meets the needs of your students and staff. If you have any questions or need help getting started, don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're here to help!

9. Prepare for a School Budget Audit

K-12 school financial officers are very familiar with audits and oversights, and unfortunately, these audits can take up a lot of time. There are just so many boxes to check when prepping the data you need for an audit such as the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).

Get all the guidance you need. Access our free school budget audit checklist. It goes over several best practices and details 105 points that you should look for.

Streamline Your School Budget Preparation with a Free eBook!

Creating a school budget isn’t easy. That’s why we researched the best practices, and the optimal steps school finance officials should take when creating a budget. Download the eBook to see... 

  • The six best practices every school and district should follow. 
  • The eight-step process to creating the perfect school budget. 
  • The three steps to simplify school payments and recordkeeping. 
  • And more! 

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