Public education in Georgia is funded from three primary sources: local ad valorem taxation, state government financing, and funds coming from the federal government. Supplementing these basic sources are lottery funds, sales taxes, tuition payments from students and other various funds from a variety of resources. When funds run short despite these sources, local boards of education have the option of long term financing for certain capital projects through general obligation bonds approved by the voters or short term financing to cover the expenses of the year through tax anticipation notes.
Local boards of education are responsible for the control and management of the school system and one of the most important tools to accomplish this control and management is the adoption of a budget for the school district. The fiscal year for school districts in Georgia is from July 1 to June 30.1 Prior to July 1, the board of education should adopt a budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Since the development of a budget for the entire school system can take several months, it is not unusual for work to begin in January on the budget to be approved by July. No task is more important for a superintendent and staff than the development of a budget to recommend to a local board. Most local board members view the budget approval process as their primary responsibility. Certainly, since the budget determines the millage to be set and levied and, thus, the taxes to be paid by the property owners of the school district, no decision has any greater political consequences for board members and superintendents. This chapter will look at issues of funding, financing and budgeting.