Budgetary processes in Class "A" schools of Montana
Odermann, Robert Vernon
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This study was done to review budgetary process models within public education and to determine which models have been predominately used in the United States public education sector. The review of processes and their components was done to provide a historical base for development of a descriptive survey. The survey was administered by the author by telephone to the thirty Class "A" school administrators responsible for budgetary processes within the Class "A" school districts in the state of Montana. The intent of the survey was to analyze budgetary processes within these districts in light of the two budgetary models found in the review of literature. These process models were called "traditional" budgetary processes and "program" budgetary processes. The "traditional" process is defined as a continuous procedure that includes planning, budget preparation, adoption of budget, and fiscal administration and appraisal. The traditional process has as its primary objective, the generating of "input-oriented" data necessary to develop the operating school budget. The process ususally includes seven to eight months of planning based on such activities as negotiations with personnel, staffing pattern projections, material amd equipment projections, operating program changes, computation of fixed charges, and computation of potential revenues for fiscal operations. The "program" budgetary process is defined as the expression of output- oriented programs and activities and their relationship to specific resources. Both programs and resources are projected over a multi-year cycle with emphasis on outputs, cost effectiveness analysis of educational alternatives, rational planning techniques and analytical decision making. Major components are: systems analysis, development of program structure, multi-year planning, cost effectiveness analysis, budget preparation and evaluation of processes and outputs. Eighty-seven per cent of the thirty Class "A" districts in Montana indicated that preliminary budgets submitted to Boards of Education were incremental, input-oriented, traditional documents based primarily on input dollar projections. Thirteen of the thirty Class "A" districts reported that some components of the "program" process were used in their traditional cycle. However, what exists in Class "A" school districts in Montana is a predominate pattern of "traditional" budgetary processes as defined in the review of the historical data on public education budgetary processes.