Budget Process 101

How does Des Moines Public Schools develop its annual budget. This page provides an overview of how both the district and individual schools develop the yearly budget, and how it is a year-round process.

District Budget Development

The District wide budget development process is a collaborative process involving many stakeholders including school personnel, Employee’s Budget Committee, Citizen’s Budget Committee, Business and Finance,  the Chief Financial Officer, the Superintendent, and the Board of Trustees

The budget reflects the labor, materials, and resources required to fulfill the goals and objectives outlined by the Board. The budget serves as an operational plan, stated in financial terms, for carrying out the goals of the school system.

The budget preparation process begins each year in September and continues through April 15th with the adoption of the budget by the Board of Trustees. During this time period Business and Finance works with both the Employee’s and the Citizen’s Budget Advisory Committees, and with school and program administrators to determine enrollment projections and anticipated programmatic changes.

Legal requirements

On or before April 15th of each year, Iowa code; section 24.9 and 24.17 require the District to accomplish the following:

  1. Publish a notice with the location, date and time for the Public Hearing.  Must be 10-20 days before Adoption of the budget.
  2. Hold a Public Hearing.
  3. Certify and adopt the budget on or before April 15th. 

School Budget Development

The development of a school budget is a critical component of the district wide process. A school’s budget is often driven by allocation formulae, contractual obligations, district wide policies and procedures, and school based initiatives.

The process starts with each school’s enrollment projections and programmatic requirements. Business and Finance staff sends each school a budget workbook showing its resources and allocations.  It contains various components such as staffing, prior year expenditures as well as enrollment counts.

School administrators review the budget and work with their school sites council (SSC) in making decisions regarding staffing and resource allocation for the following year. The principal, SSC and area Executive Director must approve the budget before it is returned to the Business and Finance Department. This department is composed of certificated staff that insures sound instructional plans. The budget is then reviewed and approved by the Board of Trustees.  Adjustments are made in October once the actual enrollments are known/certified.


Building the District budget is a year – round event, beginning in October with enrollment projections, and ending in October when the District and school sites revise the budgets. All activities are influenced by the state budget process, budget constraints, which may vary from year to year, and changes in employee compensation.


  • Look back and look forward
  • Review projections
  • Enrollment projections

October through December:

  • EBAC and CBAC Advisory Committee meetings
  • Refine estimates
  • Enrollment is certified
  • Revise budgets
  • Employee’s and Citizen’s Advisory Committees work the budget


  • Board approved budget limitation
  • Employee’s and Citizen’s Advisory Committees develop budget recommendations

February through March:

  • Budget work book returns to Business and Finance
  • Citizen’s Budget Advisory Committee make recommendations to the Board
  • Employee’s Budget Advisory Committee make recommendations to the Board
  • Public Forums are held
  • Proposed budget is presented to the Board

March and April:

  • Post budget for public review
  • Public hearing
  • Board adopts and certifies


  • Central office and schools revise budgets