Tulsa Public Schools is committed to maintaining a transparent budgeting process. The budget is made up of several funds: general fund, building fund, child nutrition, bond, and debt service. Each fund has a purpose and a specification on where money can be spent.
The general fund is what provides us the most flexibility and pays for the majority of our district costs and most of our daily operations of schools, including salaries for our staff.
The bulk of this fund goes to classroom and school services - things like instruction, student support, school administration, student transportation, and more.
The general fund also helps pay for professional learning opportunities, general administration, and maintaining and operating school facilities.
Below are two charts of our General Fund preliminary fiscal year 2020 expenditure budget.
The building fund pays for maintaining the infrastructure of our facilities. This includes repairing and maintaining all our buildings, purchasing furniture, equipment, and computer software, paying energy and utility costs, insurance, security, and campus police.
Because this money must be used for building expenses, we cannot use this fund to pay for teacher salaries, principal salaries, classroom supplies, or other outside the purpose of this fund.
The primary source for this fund comes from local property taxes.
Child Nutrition is strictly for paying for the services and resources needed to ensure our students receive meals at schools.
The majority is funded by the federal government through the National School Lunch Program. We aim to provide healthy meals for as many students as possible by participating in other programs, as well, such as the Community Eligibility Program.
You can learn more about our Child Nutrition program here.
What are school bonds?
Bonds for school projects are very similar to a home mortgage. To finance construction projects and equipment purchases, the district sells bonds to investors who will be paid back, with interest over time, with funds raised through property taxes.
School bonds begin with a general election to authorize a specific amount for projects specified on the ballot. The school district sells them as municipal bonds, typically twice a year, when funds are needed for building projects or equipment and resources. Bids are taken from interested buyers and are sold at the lowest interest rate offered.
How can school bond money be used?
Proceeds from school bonds can be used for acquiring land, construction projects like classrooms, stadiums and libraries, and remodeling existing school facilities. Funds can also be used for buying buses, equipment, textbooks, computers and networking, musical instruments, science materials, and other teaching resources.
You can find more information on our bond projects here.
Because bond money can only be used for brick and mortar construction, durable goods, and/or technology, teacher and school site salaries or routine expenses cannot be paid from bond funds.
If you look back at how bonds work, you'll see that a school district sells bonds to investors who will then be paid back, with interest. Legally, we are required to set aside money to pay for our debt, which is where the debt service fund comes in.
Because this money is specifically set aside to pay back debts, it cannot be used for any other purpose.
You can learn more about our bond projects here.