shortcutOct 15, 2018
Shalmont Central School District
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Let’s build a budget: BAC goes through budget process in tabletop exercise

The Schalmont Budget Advisory Committee recently got a taste of what it’s like allocating limited resources, by putting together a simulated budget in a tabletop exercise.

The goal of the exercise, said Superintendent Dr. Carol Pallas, was to understand the complexities, compromises, and competing priorities inherent in creating a functioning school budget.

BAC members were split into small groups and given worksheets showing different areas for spending K-12 and districtwide. Each area of the sample budget had a point value assigned to it.

In the first scenario, a rollover budget, groups were asked to craft their budgets by deciding what areas, if any, need to be reduced, maintained, or increased. The exercise proved easier said than done, as disagreements quickly emerged as to where resources should be allocated without adding to the overall budget.

For example, a teacher's position was equal to 10 points in the fictional budget. If the group decided to add a teacher to an area of instruction, 10 points had to be subtracted from a different area – another level of instruction, arts, athletics, technology, etc.

Things got even tougher in the second exercise, where state aid fell short and members of the committee were given the option of raising the tax levy, cutting programs, or a combination of both.

At the end of the exercises, the groups had to have a budget whose expenditures is equal to its revenues, just likes schools are required to.