Glossary of School Business Terminology
Administrative Budget Component: One of three categories that must be reported by school districts in the component three-part budget. These expenditures include: office and administrative costs; salaries and benefits for certified school administrators who spend 50 percent or more of their time performing supervisory duties; data processing; supplies; legal fees; property insurance; and school board expenses.
Adopted Budget: The budget proposal adopted by the Board of Education and presented to the voters at the Annual Meeting and Budget Vote.
Allowable Tax Levy (ATL): The maximum tax levy permissible under the ¨Tax Cap¨ legislation requiring a simple majority (50% +1) voter approval for passage.
Annual Meeting and Budget Vote: The purpose of the Annual Meeting is to conduct the annual election of board of education members and votes involving the budget and expenditures of money, and to authorize the levy of taxes. School districts must hold their vote (Annual Meeting) on the third Tuesday in May.
Appropriated Fund Balance: A portion of a district's total fund balance from the previous fiscal year that is applied as revenue to the following year's budget. This equates to a budgeted loss in revenue which is offset by contingency in the expenditure-side of the budget. It can also be used to reduce the tax levy.
Approved Budget: A budget approved by voters at the Annual Meeting and Budget Vote. If voters do not approve the Board of Education's adopted budget, a district may present the same budget or a revised budget for a re-vote. After two defeated proposals, the Board of Education must adopt a contingency budget.
Assessed Value: The value of a property as determined by the local property assessor, measured in units of assessment (not dollars). This value can change annually (or more frequently) based on changes made by the assessor, relative to changes in market value.
Assessment Roll: A list of all properties and their assessed value in the municipality. Since the assessment roll is not typically finalized until August, tax rates cannot be established until the assessment roll is complete.
Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES): A collaborative group of component school districts in a region that share instructional, administrative, and technology services.
BOCES Aid: State Aid received as a reimbursement for participating in cooperative services, or coser's, related to instructional, administrative, and technology expenditures.
Bond: A long-term debt instrument used to finance construction or other obligations over a specified period of time at a specified interest rate. Terms typically range from 5-30 years, depending on the nature of the construction or other obligation.
Bond Anticipation Note (BAN): A short-term debt instrument used to finance construction or other obligations over a specified period of time (less than one year in duration) at a specified interest rate. BANs can be renewed annually for up to 5 years before General Municipal Law requires the issuance of a bond.
Budget: A plan of financial operation which outlines the estimates of proposed expenditures for a fiscal year and the proposed means of financing them.
Budget Calendar: The schedule of key dates that the school district, Board of Education, and administrators follow in preparation, adoption, and administration of the budget.
Building Aid: State Aid provided to offset principal and interest obligations on debt incurred to construct and/or renovate school buildings.
Capital Budget Component: One of three categories that must be reported by school districts in the component three-part budget. These expenditures include: all transportation capital, debt service, and lease expenditures; legal judgments and settled claims; custodial costs and all facility costs, including service contracts, supplies, utilities, maintenance, repairs, construction, renovation, debt and leasing costs.
Capital Fund: The fund used to account for capital improvement and acquisitions. Capital projects are budgeted on an individual project basis since legal and contractual requirements will vary from one project to another. The initiation and implementation of a capital project generally requires voter authorization of the funding which may take the form of either obligations (debt) or interfund transfer (fund balance).
Consumer Price Index (CPI): An index of prices used to measure the change in the cost of basic goods and services in comparison with a fixed base period. It can be used as a factor in calculating the Allowable Tax Levy (¨Tax Cap¨), which stipulates 2% or the change in CPI, whichever is less.
Contingent Budget: Under NYS law, school boards can submit a budget to voters a maximum of two times. If the proposed budget is defeated twice, the Board of Education must adopt a contingency budget which places a cap on new spending. Under a contingent budget, the tax levy is limited to a 0% increase from the prior year. Items exempt from a contingent budget include: tax certiorari settlements, debt service (mortgage payments), and costs associated with ensuring the health and safety of students, staff, and property.
Contractual Services: agreements with outside organizations for providing instructional, administrative, maintenance, financial, and other services.
Debt Service Fund: The fund used to record payments of principal and interest on capital debt. The use of this fund by school districts is optional except where a mandatory reserve for debt service is required as a result of having sold school property on which there is outstanding debt, or where unexpended proceeds of borrowings, earned interest, bond premium, or accrued interest are being retained to offset future payments on principal and interest. Most school districts pay debt service on capital debt directly from the General Fund.
Employee Benefits: Amounts paid by the district on behalf of employees, subject to provisions of collective bargaining agreements and the Constitution of the State of New York. These amounts are not included in the gross salary. They are fringe benefits, and while not paid directly to an employee, are part of the total cost of the employee. Employee benefits include the district cost for health insurance premiums, dental insurance, life and disability insurance, Medicare, pensions, social security, and other fringe benefits.
Employee Benefits Accrued Liability Reserve: The purpose of this account is to reserve funds for the payment of any accrued employee benefit (ie: unused sick and/or personal days) due an employee upon termination of the employee's service. This reserve fund may be established by a majority vote of the board of education and is funded by budgetary appropriations and such other reserves and funds that may be legally appropriated (General Municipal Law, §6-p).
Employee Retirement System (ERS): The State-operated pension systems eligible for participation among non-certificated staff (ie: bus drivers, cleaners, aides, office staff, etc.). ERS operates on an April 1 to March 31 plan year, consistent with the State’s fiscal year.
Encumbrance Reserve: This reserve allows a school district to pay for items ordered in the current fiscal year, but not yet received until the subsequent year, using funds budgeted in the current fiscal year without affecting the subsequent year's budget.
Equalization Rate: A ratio determined by New York State used for determining the market value of a property in one municipality as compared to that of another when assessed value is not representative of market value. For school districts, the equalization rate helps determine how the tax levy will be allocated among the municipalities located within the school district's boundaries. A municipality that has an equalization rate of 100% means that the municipality is assessing property at market value. A municipality that has an equalization rate of less than 100% means that the municipality is assessing property below market value.
Equipment: Assets with an initial, individual cost of more than $10,000 and an estimated useful life in excess of one year.
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Grant: Federal grant program to supplement professional learning and improve student performance among high-need students.
Excess Cost Aid: State Aid provided to offset expenditures incurred in providing instruction to students with disabilities.
Expenditure: Payment of cash or transfer or property or services for the purpose of acquiring an asset or service.
Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA): The application of Social Security tax (6.2% [subject to income ceilings]) and Medicare tax (1.45%) on employee salaries.
Fiscal Year: The accounting period on which a budget is based. The New York State government operates on an April 1 to March 31 fiscal year. All school districts in New York State operate on a July 1 to June 30 fiscal year.
Foundation Aid: State Aid provided to offset expenditures incurred in providing a Free Appropriate Public Education. Foundation Aid represents the largest component of total State Aid provided to school districts.
Full-Time Equivalent (FTE): A unit of measure which is equal to one full-time annualized position. An employee assigned to work 80% of the time would have an FTE of 0.8.
Fund Balance: A fund balance is created when a school district has money left over at the end of its fiscal year from either under-spending the expenditure budget and/or receiving additional revenue above the revenue budget. Part of the fund balance (appropriated fund balance) may be applied as a budgeted loss in revenue in the following year's budget. A portion may also be set aside (unreserved/unappropriated fund balance) to pay for emergencies or other unforeseen expenses. Under NYS law, the amount unreserved/unappropriated may not exceed 4% of the following year's budget.
General Fund: The major operating fund of a school district. It receives all income not specified for a particular program or activity and not specified by law to be deposited in another fund. The annual spending plan must be approved by voters at the Annual Meeting and Budget Vote.
Homestead: residential properties within the tax base.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Grant: Federal grant program to supplement programs for students with disabilities.
Non-Homestead: commercial properties within the tax base.
Payment in Lieu of Tax (PILOT): generally refers to payments made pursuant to statute or contract to taxing jurisdictions equal to the amount, or portion of the amount, of real property taxes that would have been levied by or on behalf of the taxing jurisdiction if the real property was not tax exempt. PILOTs are often included as part of an Industrial Development Agency (IDA) agreement with a commercial or industrial project that is receiving financial assistance for the duration of the project. The property is typically taken off the tax roll and payments in lieu of taxes are made instead.
Program Budget Component: One of three categories that must be reported by school districts in the component three-part budget. These expenditures include: salaries and benefits of teachers and supervisors who spend the majority of their time teaching; instructional costs such as supplies, equipment, contractual costs, and textbooks; also transportation operating costs.
Proposed Budget: The spending plan developed by school administrators prior to adoption by the Board of Education. School districts are required by New York State to show their proposed budgets in three component categories: administrative, program, and capital.
Retirement Systems Contribution Reserve: The purpose of this account is to fund employer retirement contributions i.e., any portion of the amount(s) payable by an eligible school district to the New York State and Local Employees’ Retirement System (ERS), pursuant to Sections 17 or 317 of the Retirement and Social Security Law. A referendum is not required either to create or expend moneys from the reserve. Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) contributions are not eligible to be reserved.
Revenue: Sources of income financing the operation of the school district.
Rollover Budget: a budget projection which accounts for the same staffing and programs as the current year, adjusted for required contractual increases in salaries and other mandated expenditures.
Salaries: The total amount paid to an individual, before deductions, for services rendered while on the payroll of a school district.
School Lunch Fund: The fund used to account for revenues and expenditures in connection with the school district's food service program. The estimated expenditures must balance with the estimated revenues, interfund transfers, if any, and fund balance.
School Tax Relief (STAR) Program: A State program which provides an exemption for school taxes paid for all owner-occupied, primary residences, subject to income limitations. An enhanced exemption is provided to senior citizens, subject to income limitations.
Special Aid Fund: The fund used to account for revenues and expenditures in connection with Federal and State funded grants operated by the school district. Budgets are determined when specific grants are awarded by the funding agency. The board of education should approve each program/grant budget and should appropriate the funds by resolution. For grants which extend beyond June 30, budgets may be re-established in the next fiscal year without additional board of education approval.
State Aid: Funds allocated by wealth and demographic need to school districts to support various functions of operation. Until the State budget is enacted, the school district’s State Aid is not finalized and estimates must be used. The State deadline for enacting its budget is April 1st; however, it is not uncommon for the State to miss that deadline. Nevertheless, school districts must estimate State Aid and present their budgets to voters by the third Tuesday in May.
State Education Department (SED): The New York administration department that oversees public elementary and secondary education.
Supplies: Consumable materials used in the operation of the school district including food, textbooks, paper, pencils, office supplies, custodial supplies, material used in maintenance activities and computer software.
Tax Base: The combined assessed value of all properties within a school district’s boundaries subject to levying the necessary taxes to fund annual operations.
Tax Base Growth Factor: is derived using a “quantity change factor,” which is calculated by the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance. It measures brick & mortar construction and/or significant additions to existing properties, which increase the size of the tax base.
“Tax Cap”: See Allowable Tax Levy (ATL).
Tax Certiorari: The legal process by which a property owner can challenge the assessed value assigned to a property in attempt to reduce the property's assessment and real estate taxes.
Tax Certiorari Reserve: Chapter 588 of the Laws of 1988 amended Section 3651 of the Education Law to permit the establishment of a reserve fund for tax certiorari and to expend from the fund without voter approval of the qualified voters of the school district. This reserve is used to pay consent judgments on tax refunds dating back up to four years prior.
Tax Levy: The total sum of taxes to be raised by the school district after subtracting all other revenues and State Aid. The tax levy is used to determine the tax rate for property owners in each of the municipalities located within the school district’s boundaries. Each municipality within the school district is assigned a share of the total tax levy. Equalization rates are applied to take into account for differences in assessment practices among the municipalities.
Tax Rate: The amount of tax paid for each increment (usually $1,000) of assessed value of property.
Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS): The State-operated pension systems eligible for participation among certificated staff (ie: teaching assistants, teachers, and administrators). TRS operates on a July 1 to June 30 plan year, consistent with the school district’s fiscal year.
Transportation Aid: State Aid provided to offset expenditures incurred in providing transportation services to students. Additional transportation aid is received when purchasing transportation capital equipment, such as vehicles or garage equipment.
Unemployment Benefits Reserve: This reserve fund is used to pay the cost of reimbursement to the State Unemployment Insurance Fund for payments made to claimants where the school district or BOCES has elected to use the benefit reimbursement method, in lieu of contributions under Article 18 of the Labor Law. The reserve may be established by board action and is funded by budgetary appropriations or funds from other reserves.
Unreserved/Unappropriated Fund Balance: A school district is permitted to retain up to 4% of its total fund balance unreserved and unappropriated. These funds are available for emergency repairs and other unforeseen occurrences.