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District budgets are approved annually, but many
of the numbers contained within reflect long-term
commitments, such as labor contracts, ongoing
equipment and building maintenance contracts and
long-term commitments to instructional or professional
School accounting and the law
School budgets are governed by different regulations and practices than typical business or family budgets. The main differences are:
School district records, budgeting and reporting are on a fund basis. Nine funds are established for specific activities and objectives and operate in accordance with laws and regulations. Each fund is treated as a separate and independent entity with its own assets, liabilities and fund balance.
Federal and State mandates
Public schools must fund certain programs and services by law, even if it means deficit spending. Some familiar programs governed by mandates include special education, life-safety and ESL and bilingual programs.
Districts keep cash reserves for emergencies,
or if revenues are distributed late, they can
make their payments and not accrue penalties.
The Tax Limitation Law of 1991 limits the increase
of total dollars the district can receive over
the previous year to 5% or the CPI, not including taxes from new construction.