The Multigrade Classroom


“Whether we recognize or not, we are stewards, supplied from God with talents and facilities, and placed in the world to do a work appointed by Him.”    —E.G. White, Education, p.137



Each spring the board approves a budget for the following school year. The finance committee or an ad hoc committee comprised of at least the treasurer, board chair, principal/teacher, and possibly the pastor, should develop a budget to present to the full board.

Budget preparation should include a review of financial statements for the previous three to five years to determine an average trend for the various budget line items (both income and expense). Enrollment trends and projections should be considered when developing income projections. Adjust the income and expense entries until they are balanced, or income exceeds expenses.  Your Local Conference may have budget guidelines, forms and/or policies.

The school treasurer will present the proposed budget to the board. They will need to respond to the board’s questions and be ready to make adjustments.  After the board approves the budget, it should be presented to the constituency for approval. Once the constituency approves the budget, send it to the Local Conference Office of Education.



Income line items in the budget include, but are not limited to:

  • Church Subsidy. Most churches provide a significant portion of the school income through a financial allowance or subsidy. This gives every member an opportunity to support the school and reinforces that this is a church, not a parent, school.
  • Tuition. Tuition is the main source of funding for the school’s operation. Most schools raise tuition by 1-3% annually to offset the need for a large increase after several years. Reviewing tuition charges for the past two or three years is helpful when setting tuition rates. The superintendent will have information on tuition charges for schools of similar size and he/she can provide financial information that may be helpful when setting tuition rates.
  • Registration/Entrance Fees. Registration fees should be sufficient to cover expenses such as textbooks, testing supplies, library/technology fees, supplies, and student insurance. Your Local Conference Office of Education may have recommendations as to what to include in entrance fees and what a typical entrance fee is.
  • Fundraisers. Many schools conduct fundraisers, such as fruit programs, during the year to generate additional income. Anticipated fundraising proceeds should NOT be included in the proposed budget.
  • Direct Donations. There are several methods for encouraging people to make a donation to the school (i.e., birthday or memorial bequests, a wish list posted on the school or church bulletin board, a direct request to individuals for a specific need, a Home and School sponsored school “shower”).



Expense line items in the budget include but are not limited to:

  • Conference Teacher Billing. This is the amount the school remits to the conference for each teacher assigned to the school. The Local Conference Superintendent/Treasurer communicates the teacher billing remittance to each school.
  • Locally Funded Employee. Anyone employed for regular service in a school (i.e., teacher aide, janitor, secretary, treasurers) is a Local Conference employee and must be paid through the Local Conference, even if their salary and benefits are completely funded by the school.
  • Major Purchases. Items that are expected to last several years are considered major purchases (i.e., wall maps, desks). The board generally expects to review requests prior to purchase, even if funding is included in the approved school budget. If the board has not set spending limits (the amount a principal/teacher can spend without board approval), ask that they do so.
  • Minor Purchases. Everyday items or consumable materials are considered minor purchases (i.e., art supplies, office supplies, curriculum supplies, stamps). These do not need budget authorization if they are within the budgeted limits.
  • Textbooks. This is a significant expenditure. Generally, the board should budget approximately $200-250 per student for textbook purchases. The amount to budget depends on new series adoptions, student enrollment, and the number of replacement copies needed. The NAD Elementary Textbook List provides information regarding the official textbook adoptions, supplementary materials, and ordering information.
  • Utilities. Paying monthly utility bills are included in this line item (i.e, heating, electricity, water, sewer, Internet, garbage). etc.
  • Supplies. Any supplies needed for the operation of the school are included in this line item (i.e., bulletin board paper, toilet paper, vacuum bags, art supplies, stamps).
  • Petty Cash. This is a small amount of money kept at the school that the principal/teacher may use to make small purchases. The board should develop a policy that delineates how much money should be included in the petty cash box. The petty cash fund should be kept in a locked box or drawer with only one person authorized to access the money. This person will be responsible for all petty cash activity. Petty cash vouchers may be used to document each transaction, along with transaction receipts. When the fund is substantially depleted, the treasurer will receive the documentation of expenditures and write a check to replenish the fund.



Since money is tight in most schools, fundraising is often what makes the purchase of needed materials and equipment possible. Most Home and School Associations will help with planning and organizing fundraising programs.

Selling a variety of commercially prepared items is one way to raise money. There are thousands of companies who send fundraiser brochures to schools. Choose carefully, and get board approval, prior to implementing any of these programs.

Do not rely solely on commercially prepared fundraisers. Brainstorm with colleagues, the Home and School Association, and the board to develop ideas that will work for your school. Some ideas to consider are newspaper drives, bottle/aluminum can collections, school yard sales, white elephant auctions, car washes, international food fairs, talent shows, or work-a-thons.

Scrip is a fundraiser that generates revenue through purchases that church members and school families would make anyway. Schools receive a percentage of the “scrip” purchased.

Other companies provide cash or merchandise for various proof-of-purchase coupons. These projects require long-range planning. Determine the items desired and set a goal. Enlist the assistance of the church, community, family, and friends in collecting the proof-of-purchase coupons. Companies that participate in such programs include:

A word of caution: Selling some items, such as candy, may be controversial for a variety of reasons. Be sure to know the community before proposing a fundraiser so that you are fairly certain it will be acceptable.


Tax-Exempt Number

Many purchases made for the school are exempt from certain taxes when a tax-exempt number is provided at the time of purchase. Contact your Local Conference Treasurer for tax-exempt information.  Adhere strictly to using the tax-exempt number for school purchases only.


New Building or Building Renovation

When there is a school building or renovation project, be available to participate in whatever way is needed. Generally, the principal/teacher is asked to be a part of the building or renovation committee that oversees the project. It is important to demonstrate support for the project by participating in meetings and work bees. Use diplomacy when communicating your ideas.

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