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Student-Based Budgeting


Jeffco has had its current funding system in place since 2015-16, a Student-Based Budgeting (SBB) system with a focus on school autonomy. Simply put, SBB is a funding system where dollars follow students based on student need. This type of funding model has three core characteristics: dollars are allocated instead of staff or materials; it is based on the number of students; and objective and measurable student characteristics are used as weights.

Student-based budgeting project

Over the last seven years the district has changed significantly. Strategic priorities have evolved, the needs of the students have changed, and overall enrollment has declined unevenly across schools. Underlying revenue and cost structures have evolved as well. And given the state’s funding model and enrollment projections, further change should be expected.

To address shifting contexts and growing inequities in school funding, the district embarked upon the School-Based Budgeting (SBB) Project in November 2021 with the help of external consultants Education Resource Strategies (ERS). ERS is a leader in the field of school funding. They are recognized nationally for providing funding system design work that helps districts to implement a clear vision for a robust and equitable educational experience that benefits all students.

The project aims to identify key strengths and challenges of the current SBB model through feedback gained from various school staff including school principals, leadership, administrators, departmental staff, and professional association leaders. This feedback coupled with in-depth analyses strive to uncover potential improvements that can be made so that schools can provide more equitable programming for all students across the district.

SBB Project FAQ

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 to take into account student needs. The school then figures out the staff, supplies, materials and other expenditures they want to make 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 allocated 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. Allocating 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.


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: Roll out and training of funding formula to school leaders

Materials & Presentations

Student Based Budgeting Project Update (presented at the October 12, 2022 Board meeting)

Student Based Budgeting Project Update (presented at the June 8, 2022 Board meeting)

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