Budget Basics & Timeline

  • November

    MERSD begins its budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Click here for the MERSD FY25 Budget Calendar

    The Superintendent and Director of Finance work with the school Principals, Director of Special Education, Director of Curriculum & Instructional Technology, and Facilities Manager to develop budgets for the core programs and operations of MERSD.  These budgets have two parts:

      1. Level services or the same programs as the prior year.
      2. Expanded effort (additional costs needed to meet program requirements, federal and state mandates, or other best practice needs as recommended by the MERSD Administration). 

    The Director of Finance develops forecasts for:

      • revenue sources (state and federal funding, grants, activity, and program fees)
      • mandatory district-wide obligations (health insurance costs, personnel salary increases, retirement benefits costs, capital, and operating expenses)
      • estimated assessments to the towns for funding the MERSD budget.

    Building a school district budget seven months in advance of the start of the fiscal year isn’t easy, and it requires making numerous assumptions on some of the most significant components of the budget.  For example, the state sets its funding for schools in the spring, after the MERSD budget is completed and approved by the towns.  Similarly, the increase in health insurance costs is unknown until much later in the year, and special education costs can change as children move into the district.  In short, these timing issues and others make it difficult to produce a completely accurate budget early in the process.  

    December

    The Superintendent presents the draft budget to the School Committee and schedules a mid-December public hearing for the tentative budget. 

    December 5th – Presentation of the Tentative Budget (6:00 pm / MERMHS Learning Commons). This is a regularly scheduled School Committee Meeting at which we will present and discuss the FY25 Tentative Budget Proposal.

    December 13th – Public Hearing on the Tentative Budget (7:00 pm / MERMHS Learning Commons). This event is meant to provide the community with an opportunity to learn and ask questions about our proposed budget.

    January/February

    The School Committee and MERSD administration, along with input from the communities, work to further refine the projections and approve a final budget for submission to the towns in early February. 

    January 23rd – Public Hearing on the Tentative Budget (7:00 pm / MERMHS Learning Commons). This event is meant to provide the community with an opportunity to learn and ask questions about our proposed budget.  

    The budget is a standing agenda item throughout  January and February.  Public comment is welcome at the beginning of all regularly scheduled School Committee sessions, and there is a  second public hearing on the budget to gather feedback to inform decision-making.

    March

    During March and early April, the School Committee and the District Administration continue to monitor assumptions and make adjustments when necessary.  

    April/May

    During the Manchester Town Meeting in April and then the Essex Town Meeting in May, voters from each town vote on the MERSD budget.  Both towns must pass the MERSD budget at town meeting; otherwise, we are mandated to keep the prior year’s budget until another new budget is approved by both towns. This budget process sequence is dictated by a combination of Town By-Laws, the MERSD Agreement, and State education laws.