Mountain Brook Schools Budget Process

  • This article appeared in the November 2022 issue of the City of Mountain Brook's The Reporter newspaper.

  • November 1, 2022 -- The purpose of Mountain Brook Schools (MBS) is to provide an effective, challenging, and engaging education for every one of its students. In September 2022, the MBS Board of Education approved a $70 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year (October 1 - September 30). This begs the question: how does MBS come up with its annual budget?

    Each year, MBS Chief School Financial Officer, Kari Austin, and her staff evaluate the revenue coming into the school system. MBS revenue streams from three main avenues: the state of Alabama’s Education Trust Fund, local money, and the Mountain Brook City Schools Foundation (MBCSF). 

    While most school systems in Alabama depend on state money for a majority of their budget, the state allotment only makes up 34% of the MBS budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year. The majority (63%) of the budget comes from local money (ad valorem taxes through the city of Mountain Brook). The MBCSF’s annual contribution makes up the remainder of the budget and this year’s grant exceeded $514,000, the largest ever in the foundation’s 30-year history.

    “The financial support we receive from our community allows us to go above and beyond to provide the highest quality education for our students,” Superintendent Dr. Dicky Barlow said. “Additional staff, technology, and enhanced resources allow for new opportunities of growth which cultivate a learning environment.”

    Eighty percent of the Mountain Brook School System general fund expenditures are personnel costs. The remaining 20 percent are operating costs. When fine-tuning the function of the general fund expenditures, $49.9 million (79%) of all budget-related items are for instructional services and support. Other areas of budget spending include debt service, capital projects, operations, administrative and more.

    Each May, the MBS finance staff receives allocations from the Alabama State Department of Education. Numbers are finalized in order to approve salary schedules for the ensuing school year at the June MBS Board of Education meeting. Budget information is provided to district administrators in July while school principals verify enrollment and unit information numbers with Austin.

    “The largest parts of budget preparation are projecting local ad valorem tax revenues and state funding as well as the staffing we will have in place for the upcoming school year,” Austin said. “Once those pieces are in place, the rest of the budget comes together very quickly.”

    In August, Austin reviews any changes from department directors and works to create the final budget presentation for Dr. Barlow. The budget is distributed to Board members at the beginning of September before two separate public budget hearings are held and the Board members finalize the budget for the coming fiscal year.

    Thanks to the MBS budget, each elementary school was able to add a new STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) teacher this school year. A new math lab was created at Mountain Brook High School as well. In total, MBS is locally funding 125 teachers this year.

    Visit to learn more about Mountain Brook Schools.