Budget Process 101

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

District Budget Development

The district-wide budget development process is a collaborative one involving many stakeholders, including school personnel, the Employees’ Budget Advisory Committee, the Citizens’ Budget Advisory Committee, Business & Finance,  the chief financial officer, the superintendent, and the school board.

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

The budget preparation process begins each year in September and continues through April 15th, the deadline mandated for formal adoption by local boards of school district budgets in Iowa. Business & Finance works throughout the period with both advisory committees and district administrators to determine enrollment projections and anticipated changes in programming.

Legal requirements

Iowa Code; sections 24.9 and 24.17 require the district to annually accomplish the following no later than April 15th:

  1. Publish a notice with the location, date and time for public hearing(s) which must be scheduled 10-20 days before adoption of the budget.
  2. Hold public hearing(s).
  3. Certify and adopt the budget on or before April 15th. 

School Budget Development

The development of a budget is fundamental to district operations. School budgets are often driven by allocation formulae, contractual obligations, district-wide policies/procedures, and school-based initiatives.

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

School administrators review the workbook and collaborate with their school site 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 Business & Finance. This department is composed of certificated staff who ensure sound instructional plans. The cumulative budget is then reviewed and approved by the school board.  Adjustments are made in October once actual enrollments are certified.


Building the district budget is a year-round event, subject to revisions every October upon certification of enrollment figures. All activities are influenced by the state’s budgeting process and other variables such as changes in employee compensation.


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

October through December:

  • Employees’ and Citizens’ Budget Advisory Committee (EBAC/CBAC) meetings
  • Refine estimates
  • Enrollment is certified
  • Revise budgets
  • EBAC and CBAC work the budget


  • Board approved budget limitation
  • EBAC and CBAC develop budget recommendations

February through March:

  • Budget workbooks return to Business & Finance
  • EBAC and CBAC 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 per certified enrollments