It is important for an applicant group to contact their authorizer with questions about the budget format required for charter applications. The authorizer can provide developers with the Per Pupil Revenue (PPR) assumptions that they can expect to receive, cost per pupil in any critical areas such as Special Education, and any templates and/or requirements they have for their charter schools. Existing charter schools can also offer insight into specific district costs, and often provide examples of budgets. Developers are encouraged to check with high quality charters for best practices and information on lessons they have learned.
There are also several helpful documents that explain School Finance and templates that are available at: http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdechart/guidebook/fin/pdf/HelpfulSites.pdf the CDE list of finance related websites. For a Financial Management Guide for Colorado Charter Schools, see: http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdechart/guidebook/fin/pdf/FinGuide.pdf. Also, refer to The Standard Application and The League's Quality Standards section concerning financial categories to include in budget preparation. A sample budget template can also be found on the CDE website under Technical Assistance: Finance, or by clicking here.
Additional resources are available through charter support organizations and offer templates for use in planning. With any documents, make certain that critical areas are included such as curriculum and support, salaries and benefits, Special Education, Facilities, and any state mandated areas such as costs to the authorizer. For example, there is a good tool available through the National Resource Center (NRC) on Charter School Finance and Governance. This document* has a list of things to consider in your budget planning, but missed student assessments. The NRC also has a Revenue Planning Tool available on their website at: http://www.charterresource.org.
The Cost Estimation Tool helps start-up charter school operators identify and estimate the range of costs and timing of expenditures they will be obligated to cover during start-up and the early years of operation. The tool provides several worksheets to help charter school operators identify basic cost assumptions (e.g., student enrollment and facilities needs) and uses those assumptions to estimate operating costs. Download the cost estimation template in Excel.