Reporter Guide

Reading a District Budget

Every school budget tells a story—about a district’s spending plan, its priorities, goals, and financial health. The challenge is to wade through the jargon and numbers to unlock that story. 

Although budgets can vary significantly from district to district, and state to state, this primer seeks to introduce reporters to the fundamental components of a district’s spending plan, offer tips for making sense out of a sea of numbers, and suggest questions that could lead to important stories.