GFPS sets budget development timeline

The Great Falls Public Schools board has set their timeline for the 2023-2024 budget process.

Since this is a legislative year, school funding adjustments can’t be finalized until the end of the session, according to the district.

The first student enrollment count was held Oct. 3.

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The first count is averaged with the second count held in February, according to the district.

The fall count showed the district was down 91 students, 31 in K-6; 31 in middle school and 24 in high school, according to Board Member Kim Skornogoski.

Current law allows for a three-year average for enrollment or the ability to ask the voters to maintain the previous year’s budget.

“After only one enrollment count and the uncertainty of legislative action, it is difficult to have an accurate revenue forecast for the 2023-2024 fiscal year,” according to district staff.

State law caps the rate of inflation the district can increase at 3 percent, but actual inflation has been 7 percent or more, Skornogoski said.

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The following timeline for the 2023-2024 budget setting process:

  • December-February: Begin informing the public about the budget process and budget factors; track legislative actions related to school funding
  • March 2, 2023: Board/community meeting for legislative update on school funding bills at the district office
  • March 7, 2023: Community town hall with revenue and expense projections, asked/answered responses, and community input
  • March 14, 2023: Board budget committee meeting
  • March 27, 2023: Regular board meeting: review budget committee recommendation and board action if needed

The district must decide in March if it plans to put a levy on the May ballot.

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The budget is typically finalized over the summer and adopted in August after the district receives tax valuation information from the Montana Department of Revenue.