Presented by Joe Pappas, Nottelmann Music Clinician –
One of the most difficult aspects of being a music director at any level is anticipating the needs, growth and budget of the school music program. Many times we are faced with needs that exceed the annual budget and are forced to find other means to support our programs. By using the long range planning and cooperation of the school district, you as the director should have success with preparing the budget.
Having worked in four different school districts and at the college level, I have experienced three types of budgets. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages. However, knowing these types and how they function will assist you in being able to prioritize and justify your needs.
The first thing to do is take inventory of music, instruments and uniform apparel. Next, look at your present and future class or ensemble numbers. Along this line look at your past enrollment numbers and chart the numbers by years. This will give you an idea of past and future growth. If you are new to the school you may have to have assistance from the guidance office. Next, develop your wish/need list. Keep these separate as you will have to defend your needs with administration later.
Finally, based on the information you have compiled prepare a three to five year budget plan, categorizing music/textbooks/technology, instruments, uniforms, repairs and group travel. Be sure to include professional development, etc., if your school pays this. Be sure to prioritize the needs and wants. The experiences of my budgets were built with growth in mind and a breakdown of my basic needs, 20-30% new music; 10-15% repairs/upkeep; 40-60% for new equipment, uniforms, 10% travel. Professional development was not part of this budget plan.
Once you have your “ideal” budget, administration will generally use one of three types of budgets. I have named these, “The Red Line,” “Weʼll See What We Can Do,” and “The Lump Dollar Amount” budgets.
“The Red Line Budget”
This type of budget is basically where you submit your needs with ordering information, dollar amount for each line item and shipping cost. It is important that you prioritize this one! The administration reviews it and draws the line cutting everything below the line they can afford. Some administration will also prioritize what they feel they can afford and cut certain items. This can be an advantage, but my experiences are it is mostly a disadvantage. Always ask for more than you expect!
“Weʼll See What We Can Do Budget”
This budget is the most dangerous! You are at the mercy of the administration and may get very little or meet my needs. My experiences were the first, most of the time I got very little because I didnʼt prioritize or justify. In one situation all I got was a $90 repair kit as opposed to the new marching drums another high school got in the district! This is a common type budget in small schools. If your budget is this type, I recommend meeting with your administration and see if you can change the strategy or at least have input.
“The Dollar Amount Budget”
This is the one I preferred as I had more control of the needs. I was given the dollar amount I had to work and not exceed. As a result I was able to meet the program needs and follow the budget I developed. It also allowed me to look ahead and often add future needs. As you know there are always needs for the music department! Donʼt be shy, ask administration if any money is available at the end of the year to keep you in mind!
In general, there are other aspects you need to be concerned with in developing your budgets. Below are items to take into consideration working with budgets and general purchases.
if the sport teams have to purchase their uniforms. Point out the average lifespan of uniforms, the materials used and the consumable items that need to be replaced. Look ahead to uniform needs for growth if your program appears to be headed in that direction.
With planning and open communications between you and your administration, budget needs are accessible and will result in success of your program. Donʼt be hesitant to express your needs, even in your first year!
Joe Pappas: Joe has written over two hundred compositions for beginning bands to college wind ensembles, but most known for his compositions for young bands and young musicians. After forty six years of successful teaching in public schools and college level, he now devotes most of his time to composing, working as an educational consultant, judging band festivals, and running his own company, JPM Music Publications.