Public School Districts in Pennsylvania (the State) receive the majority of their funding through local sources – mainly the local real estate (property) tax. Some of the funding comes from the State and a relatively small amount comes from the Federal government. School districts may also use money that is left over from prior years to help fund the budget. The budget must be “balanced” – budgeted revenues must equal budgeted expenditures for the year. The budget is detailed in accordance with the account code structure as dictated by the State.
The amount of funding to be received from the State and Federal governments is determined annually. In the case of Pennsylvania’s budget, a preliminary State budget is presented in February and then discussed at length by the legislature before final approval is granted. This approval is supposed to occur before June 30. Districts must estimate the amount of funding that they will receive because the State’s budget is typically not approved prior to the district budget being approved.
Districts follow a fiscal year calendar that begins July 1 and ends June 30. Districts must approve an annual budget no later than June 30. Following the passage of Special Session Act 1 of 2006, the Board of School Directors must follow a very strict calendar to pass the General Fund Budget. The official budget calendar per Act 1 guidelines is published on the Budget Calendar page. The budget process begins in the fall with the establishment of the Act 1 index. The Preliminary Budget is presented and discussed through the fall and into the early spring at Finance Committee meetings. The Proposed Final Budget must be approved at least 30 days prior to the Final Budget.