Top 10 School Budget Checklist for Parents

Now that school districts are in the home stretch of the yearly budget process, it’s a good time to reiterate the importance of parent involvement. Parents are their children’s best advocates, but you can’t be effective unless you are informed. Here are the Top 10 things you need to know to help you navigate the budget process in your school district.

  1. Know your school district’s budget calendar, which will give you a list of meetings and topics. Attend these meetings if you are available.
  2. Be sure to check your district’s website for information, and read budget brochures that are mailed to your home. Read the fine print so you will understand if your children’s school experience will be impacted.
  3. Keep up with media reports of budget meetings. Local newspapers and the Patch offer different perspectives, which may not be covered in official school district information.
  4. Know when PTA meetings are held. Your PTA president should have the latest budget information.
  5. Know when and where Board of Education meetings are held, attend them, and feel free to voice your opinion during the public participation part of the meeting. You must sign up to speak before the meeting. This is the time when you can join together with other parents to protest proposed reductions that you oppose, such as full-day kindergarten, or increased class size.
  6. Know the names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses of the Board of Education members and the District Clerk. In public school districts, trustees are elected by the residents and should be responsive to their constituents’ opinions and problems.
  7. If you are upset by a proposed cut, you may circulate petitions to the board, discuss the topic at PTA meetings, write letters to the board and to the newspapers, and come to board meetings en masse. Impassioned and organized efforts sometimes have the desired results.
  8. Make sure you register to vote. Check with the District Clerk for procedures and deadlines if you are not sure if you are registered.
  9. Remember to vote. There is a uniform voting date for all school districts in New York State, which this year is Tuesday, May 21. If you live in another state, check with your district for the date of this year’s budget vote.
  10. If you will be out of town you may request an absentee ballot. Check with the District Clerk for information about absentee ballots, polling places and voting hours.
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