Dr. R.J. Gravel took over his post as the Glenbrooks’ Assistant Superintendent for Business Services on July 1, and within days, had to build and present a budget for the 2016-17 school year.
The Public Relations (PR) Office sat down with Dr. Gravel to learn more about the budgeting process, and the experience through the eyes of a new assistant superintendent:
PR: Tell us about those first few days on the job:
RJ: After I was announced as the next assistant superintendent, to succeed the well established and resourceful Hillarie Siena, I immediately began to work with the leadership team, including our directors, to understand the overall structure and process performing the budget. One of the greatest challenges for me, but also a large part of how the district has been so financially successful, was to understand the many formulas and structures that have been put into place to ensure financial stability across generations of students. Understanding each formula, and how it impacts our children and staff members was my first priority as I began to learn our budget development methodology.
PR: What do you think is the biggest misconception about school budgets:
RJ: That it’s created in a short amount of time, with only a few staff members involved in the planning process. The planning process for this fall started well in advance and kicked into high gear in October 2015. It involved the active participation of our staff members, administrators, the Board of Education and our local community.
PR: What is something you wish everyone knew about school budgets:
RJ: School budgets are a representation of a district’s priorities, translated into financial figures. There is an extensive amount of time and thought put into each budgetary allocation.
PR: What was your biggest fear in putting together a $100 million budget:
RJ: Over the past several years, I have had the opportunity to manage smaller budgets. This year, I was tasked with managing a budget of well over $100 million. The sheer acknowledgment of that responsibility would be both humbling and challenging for anyone. However by realizing that the budget is not just the work of one person, but the work of team of experienced educators and professionals, it allowed us to collectively leverage our strengths to achieve this year's balanced budget.
PR: What are you most proud of in the designing of this year’s budget:
RJ: I’m so proud of the resources we developed that explain our financial outlook for this year and the future so that everyone can truly understand the story of the Glenbrooks.
PR: What’s something we wouldn’t know about you, by looking at you:
RJ: Many folks in my role have a long history in the financial sector. It’s not often that a music teacher turned classroom-technology-geek, aspires to become a business manager. But, I feel that my experience and my consistent interest in supporting our students keeps me grounded and provides me with a different perspective in managing the business office.
On September 26, the Board approved the 2016-17 budget during their regularly scheduled meeting. The 2016-17 budget projects $118,323,154 in revenues and $119,823,154 in expenditures in the Operating Fund.
This is the second consecutive year that the district has put forth a budget that utilizes existing fund balance for the purposes of pre-approved capital projects to enhance classroom facilities for students. This year’s $1.5 million deficit is reflective of an operating transfer to fund these projects.
Based on the budget for 2016-17, the district forecasts an Operating Fund balance of $78.2 million as of June 30, 2017.