In a discussion of school funding one must understand that this is a primary summary only. The specific rules, allowance, and nuances are more complicated than can be described here. This, however, gives the reader a good general understanding of the basic components.
Each school district has established under Montana statute several funds for the operation of its education mission. The largest of these funds is the General Fund. It is used for the general operation, curriculum and maintenance of the school – its instructional mission.
What drives the funding of this fund is a calculation called ANB (Average Number Belonging) (See enrollment) A school’s general fund budget is determined by the number of students who are enrolled in the district, as determined by the ANB.
Using that calculation, the state established an amount for EACH student who is enrolled to be allocated to fund this fund. This is called the Per-ANB Entitlement.
The state also establishes an amount of funding for each district based upon a set figure. This is called the Basic Entitlement. By law it is established to be equal to $21,290 for each elementary district and $236,552 for each high school district.
Every school district is required to adopt a general fund budget that is at least 80% of its maximum budget amount. This minimum budget level (referred to as the equalized budget) is funded 44.7% by direct state aid DSA); 35.3% by a combination of a mandatory local property tax, any non-levy revenue (such as previous year’s earned interest), ending fund balances and a equity payment that is made to eligible schools from the state (called the GTB – Guaranteed Tax Base). It also includes (since the 2005 legislative special session):
- 100% of the quality educator payment
- 100% of the “at risk” payment
- 100% of the “Indian Education for All” payment
- 100% of the American Indian Achievement gap” payment
- 140% of a district’s special education allowable cost grant, and
- 40% of a district’s Related Services Block Grant for special education.
A district may choose to adopt a budget greater than the minimum budget (or between the 80% and 100%). This includes all of the revenue sources for the minimum budget level and up to #4 above. The budget adopted above the minimum also receives:
- Between 175% and 200% of the districts allowable costs for special education.
- Between 75% and 100% of the Related Services Block Grant for special education.
Any majority of the funding of the budget at this level (the amount of adopted budget between the minimum and the maximum budget) is funded by a local property tax that must be approved by the local voters. The exception is the special education increases at that level.
Other major budgeted funds:
- The transportation budget is designated to fund transporting student to and from school. All Montana students who live more that three miles from school are entitled to transportation.
The state funds a portion of the transportation cost based upon a statutory amount per bus mile. The county funds part of that amount through a mandatory countywide levy of taxes for transportation. They are equal shares. However, the amount is determined, not on the cost of transportation, but on a statutory allocation based on bus mile.
The local districts fund the remainder of the budget not funded by the county or state by a permissive transportation levy (is not required to be voted)
- The retirement budget is established to fund federal and state mandatory withholdings. These include social security, Medicare and retirement. The retirement budget is funded by a mandatory countywide levy on property tax.
- Building Fund - Voter approved bond issues generally fund building construction and land purchases. A district that has sold voter approved bonds established a Debt Service Fund to pay bonds annually. GTB (Guaranteed Tax Base) aid is available to eligible districts that have sold bonds after July 1, 1991 (State support of buildings and facilities).
- Building Reserve - Through a vote of the electorate, a district may also establish a Building Reserve Fund to pay for specified capital expenditures. No bonds are sold to finance the Building Reserve, but local taxes are levied for a specified number (as noted in the resolution of election) of years to pay for the designated projects/purposes. Districts do not receive GTB aid for the Building Reserve.
- Technology Fund – This fund is used to purchase and maintain technology and provides technological training. The Technology fund is financed by a state grant and may be increased by locally voted levy.
- Flexibility Fund – This fund is a “special fund” authorized by the 2002 legislature and funded by the State. This fund allows districts wide latitude in spending.
Districts also have several non-budgeted funds, which account for certain functions such as federal moneys, school lunch programs, grant moneys, and other programs not funded by property tax. These budgets are generally for a specific purpose and have a specific funding for them.
|Ravalli County - Total School/County Mills|
|GF||Trans||Bus Depr||Adult Ed||Tech||Debt Service||Bldg Reserve||Tuition||Total|
|Stevi - Elem||70.30||19.23||1.34||2.19||11.21||104.27|
|Stevi - HS||41.01||11.11||1.31||1.61||55.04|
Last updated 4/27/2011 3:33:55 PM by Merino, Shelli