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Student-Based Budgeting (SBB)

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What is SBB?

Student-Based Budgeting (SBB) was implemented districtwide during the 2015-16 school year.

SBB is an educational funding allocation best practice that public school districts across the country have used. SBB allocates dollars to the school-level budget based on the number of students and specific needs identified with those students. 

The district provides resources to schools through a hybrid approach that combines student-based funds with allocated staff that are funded out of departmental budgets. Examples of staff allocations include learning specialists, certain types of paraprofessionals, and operations staff like custodians and field maintenance.

Why Change the SBB?

After nine years, the District is revisiting SBB to see how it’s working, especially since schools are needing to rebalance their budgets to serve smaller numbers of students. 

The goal is to improve SBB and align it with Jeffco's new strategic plan. The district is partnering with Education Resource Strategies (ERS), a leader in the field of strategic school resourcing, to analyze and redesign the funding formula and process.

Key Findings

  • Schools have uneven amounts of money leftover after purchasing the recommended minimum staffing and materials for students; ideally, and measured on a percentage of overall budget, schools will have similar amounts of money leftover after budgeting for the minimum.
  • Dollars intended to support the specific needs of students living in poverty are not always available to support differentiated supports and the overall amount of funding designated for these supports is below the recommended level in some schools. Note: For schools receiving Title I funding, the combined Title I funding and at-risk funding exceeds recommended levels.
  • The current school resource guide could be improved to more transparently state how resources (dollars and staff) are allocated to schools.

4 Principles of Effective Funding Systems

Sufficient and Flexible
Funding must be flexible and allocated to meet the needs of students sufficiently. Schools are able to invest in the resources for their specific student population.

An equitable system that meets students’ needs and is tied to priorities to address those needs.

A transparent system where the process is clear to all stakeholders. Schools engage parents/guardians for their feedback.

A stable and sustainable system where principals have a sense of budget to plan accordingly around their key resources – staff.

Next Steps. Who is Involved?

A team of district leaders has been involved with this project since May 2022. The team includes principals, community superintendents, departmental directors and budget staff. The team has been supported by ERS. 

The new formula for Student-Based Budgeting will be rolled out in December, along with training for school leaders and financial secretaries. Budgets for the 2023-24 will be built using the new formula.

Project Timeline

May-August 2022: Review & Data Analysis Phase

September-November 2022: Design Phase

December 2022: Finalization of the adjusted funding formula; Principal SBB Trainings

 January 2023: Rollout and training of funding formula to school leaders

Frequently Asked Questions about SBB

What is Student-Based Budgeting (SBB)?

Student-Based Budgeting (SBB) is a way to build a school’s budget by providing them dollars instead of allocated staff. In a student-based budget, the school receives an amount of money for each student they serve with some adjustments accounted for student needs. The school then determines the number of staff, supplies, materials and other expenditures wanted within their budget.

Schools receive a mix of allocated dollars through SBB and allocated staff from central departments. Most core expenses are paid from SBB, though many direct student services are provided by allocated staff (e.g., special education, speech therapy, social workers, etc.).

The district uses the SBB system to increase transparency and decentralize decision-making (more of the decisions about how to staff a school are made at the school level). This supports customizing the budget to meet the unique needs of students. SBB also aligns to the way that the district receives funding – on a per pupil basis.

How Does SBB Work in Jeffco?

For the portion of school services that are supported through SBB, Jeffco allocates financial resources to schools using a combination of enrollment, student and school characteristics. The table below describes the different components of the SBB formula and the criteria for how dollars flow to schools. View the table below to see a larger version.


How Does Jeffco Distribute Dollars and/or Staff to Support Students' Needs?

The SBB formula deliberately allocates additional resources to serve students identified as "At-Risk" (see above). Together with Title I allocations, roughly $24M in SY21-22 was distributed to specifically support students experiencing poverty and/or homelessness.

Staff to support Students with Disabilities (SWD) and English Language Learners (ELL) are distributed by central office departments and do not flow through SBB. Schools receive staffing and other resources based on their overall enrollment, enrollment of students with disabilities and English language learners, and other factors (including student disability types, school size and location, etc.).

Is the Project Going to Analyze and Potentially Redesign SBB?

Jeffco has been using the blended model of both staff allocations and dollar allocations (through SBB) for about six years. Over time, various stakeholders have asked whether the system is working to achieve the most efficient and equitable distribution of resources. In response to these questions, the district has engaged a third party - (Education Resource Strategies) - to help analyze all of our financial data and identify areas for improvement.

The project started in April 2022 and will wrap up in January 2023, impacting the budgeting process for the 2023-24 school year.

Is the District Considering Getting Rid of SBB?

The district is open to significantly changing the way that staff and funds are budgeted at the school level. To date, many of the challenges identified relate more to the broad issues of declining enrollment. Declining enrollment creates constraints on school resources regardless of how staff and funds are budgeted and simply changing the approach to budgeting will not fix the underlying problem.

For example, schools currently receive allocated staff (rather than SBB dollars) to try to meet the needs of students with special needs and/or address social emotional well-being. Schools still often feel these allocated staff are insufficient to meet the needs of students. Distributing staff versus dollars does not fix the root problem of declining enrollment that has led to less overall district funding (adjusted for inflation) and resources spread too thin to be as impactful as we all want.

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