Simplified: The Sioux Falls School District is focused on making sure money spent is going toward programs that make a real difference for kids. Here's a look at how effectiveness is guiding budget decisions this year.

Why it matters

  • Funding is historically tight for schools, and as pandemic relief money wanes, the Sioux Falls School District is taking a hard look at what programs are worth keeping around.
  • During the budget process, all existing programs will have to justify the need for existence based on research or performance data. Programs will also have to show how they fit with the district's overarching goals.
  • Through all of this, the district is asking budget committees to consider what their program might look like with a 4 percent budget cut over the next four years.
"If you look at our five-year plan, we call for an overall 4 percent cut over a four-year period," Business Manager Todd Vik said. "(We're) trying to get the budget makers in the mind of, 'what might my budget look like four years from now.'"

How does the budget process work?

The district has 19 budget committees – made up of 150 members – who start the process looking line by line at where money is spent.

  • These committees will have to follow the guidelines school board members approved Monday – including looking at both a 1 percent and 4 percent reduction in funding and what that might mean.
  • Any calls to add funding have to also come with a reduction from somewhere else in a similar area. (For example: If you want to add a new elementary reading program, you'll have to cut spending somewhere else at the elementary level).

After going through the various budget committees, the budget moves to a single Budget Review Committee, which includes two members of the school board.

  • They'll look holistically at the plan to make sure it aligns with both district priorities and the five-year budget plan.

What happens next?

Most of the budget work is behind the scenes at this point.

The general public will get to see the budget in late March, and public input won't happen until April.