L&S Changes to BSR Accounting Rules for STS and TAs Effective FY19

Effective immediately (FY19), the College is modifying our Budget Status Report (BSR) accounting rules for Short-Term Staff (STS) and Teaching Assistant (TA) budgets. This memo addresses the following topics: STS budget sheet, TA budget sheet, Reader/graders, elimination of access funding. Examples of STS and TA budget sheets provided.

Changes to BSR accounting for STS and TA budgets


Planning for the 2018-19 academic year will soon begin with the annual call for departmental teaching assistant (TA) requests and the semiannual call for departmental short-term staffing (STS) requests.  In conjunction with these calls, the College is making some changes to our Budget Status Report (BSR) accounting system and related administrative processes.  Like previous changes to the BSR system, these modifications are intended to make BSR accounting more intuitive, increase the transparency of College finances, and facilitate decision-making about the best use of departmental resources.

This memo addresses the following topics:
  • STS budget sheet
  • TA budget sheet
  • Reader/graders
  • Elimination of access funding
While we are adding new STS Budget and TA Budget sheets to each department’s BSR, please note that the existing BSR sheets (Budget Summary, Faculty and Staff Detail, Tally Sheet, Faculty Lines) will continue with their current formats and accounting rules.  Questions about the accounting policy changes can be directed to james.montgomery@wisc.edu or your divisional associate dean.  Specific questions about your department’s BSR should be directed to marybeth.roberts@wisc.edu.

STS Budget sheet:

Currently, each department has the STS baseline shown in dollars on its annual baseline document (a PDF sheet maintained separately from the BSR).  The baseline document also records any permanent or temporary changes to the STS baseline.  Departments that exceed their baseline incur one-time Tally sheet charges, while departments below their baseline do not receive Tally sheet credits (though have sometimes been granted permission to carry forward unused balances on an ad-hoc basis).  

Starting in 2018-19, the annual baseline document will be replaced by a new STS Budget sheet in the BSR.  It follows the format of the BSR Tally sheet, with both an ongoing balance and a one-time balance. (Please see the sample STS Budget sheet at the end of this memo.)  The initial entry for FY19 is an ongoing credit reflecting the department’s baseline.  Subsequent entries reflect permanent or one-time credits for STS provided to the department by the College or campus for specific purposes (e.g., STS backfill for faculty in administrative positions).  To the extent that these credits are granted in FTEs (rather than dollar amounts), the L&S Budget Office will follow current practice, crediting an amount based on the department’s usual rate and appointment percentage for Lecturer SAs.

At the end of each fiscal year, the L&S Budget Office will post a one-time charge to the STS Budget sheet for the department’s total STS spending on fund 101.  (On the sample sheet, the department spent $40,308 in FY19.)  The difference between the department’s spending (net of any one-time credits) and its ongoing balance will then be either charged (if net spending exceeds ongoing balance) or credited (if ongoing balance exceeds net spending) to the department’s Tally sheet.  (On the sample sheet, the department incurred a one-time charge of $4,088 for FY19, a one-time charge of $31,233 for F20, and a one-time credit of $5,111 for FY21.)  Note that any one-time balance is thus shifted to the Tally sheet at the end of each fiscal year, not carried forward on the STS Budget sheet.  The intention is for the Tally sheet to reflect all uncommitted resources available to the department.

By its nature, STS spending may vary from year to year, fluctuating above or below the department’s ongoing balance.  However, once it becomes apparent that the department’s annual spending is consistently higher than its ongoing balance, the L&S Budget Office is authorized to increase the ongoing STS balance through an ongoing charge to the Tally sheet.  (On the sample sheet, the Budget Office imposed an ongoing charge of $17,656 in FY21, equal to the average of one-time overspending in the preceding two years.)  Similarly, the Budget Office is authorized to decrease the ongoing balance through an ongoing credit to the Tally sheet if the department consistently underspends its ongoing STS balance.  The department may also (with permission of the divisional associate dean) proactively increase or decrease its STS balance (through an ongoing Tally sheet charge or credit) if it commits to make a permanent change in its average STS spending level.  Note that these charges or credits do not alter the total ongoing resources of the department, but merely shift resources between the Tally sheet and the STS sheet to better reflect the department’s expected annual STS spending.  Again, the intention is for the Tally sheet to reflect all uncommitted resources available to the department.

For 2018-19, the College will maintain our usual semiannual call for STS requests, though the format of this planning exercise may begin to change going forward.  All STS spending remains subject to approval by the divisional associate dean.  Nevertheless, departments are strongly encouraged to reevaluate their historical STS spending patterns, in particular to determine whether resources previously devoted to STS might be better used in other ways (e.g., hiring renewable instructional staff).  We anticipate that most departments will maintain their current practices regarding salary rates and appointment percentages for STS.  Any requests for changes will be evaluated as part of the semiannual STS approval process.

TA Budget sheet:

Currently, each department has the TA base budget shown on its annual baseline document (a PDF sheet maintained separately from the BSR).  The baseline document also records any permanent or temporary changes to the baseline.  Departments that exceed their baseline incur one-time Tally sheet charges, while departments below their baseline do not receive Tally sheet credits (though have sometimes been granted permission to shift resources to the STS budget on an ad-hoc pre-approved one-time basis).  While the baseline document indicates budgeted dollars for Red Book purposes, the TA budget has been understood as a number of FTEs allocated to the department.

Starting in 2018-19, we are transitioning from FTE budgets to dollar budgets for TAs.  Given that both the Tally sheet and new STS Budget sheet report dollar balances, this change is intended to help departments more easily assess potential reallocation of their resources across competing uses.  To implement this change, we are replacing the annual baseline document with a new TA Budget sheet in the BSR.  (Please see the sample TA Budget sheet at the end of this memo.)  For reference, this sheet records the department’s (semester-basis, 100% appointment) TA rate in the initial orange row for each fiscal year.  Otherwise, it follows the format of the new STS Budget sheet. 

The entries in the initial white rows for FY19 show how the department’s current FTE baselines are being converted into ongoing dollar balances, based on the new TA rate for FY19.  (On the sample sheet, the department has an FY19 rate of $18,350.  Thus, its fall baseline of 7.50 FTEs implies an ongoing budget of 7.50 * $18,350 = $137,625.)  Beyond establishing the department’s initial dollar baseline, the TA Budget sheet will also show additional entries for any permanent or one-time credits provided to the department for specific purposes.  To the extent that these credits are granted in FTEs (rather than dollar amounts), the FTEs will be valued according to the current year’s rate.  (On the sample sheet, the 0.5 FTE granted to the department in FY19 thus resulted in a credit of 0.5 * $18,350 = $9,715.)  

At the end of each fiscal year, the L&S Budget Office will post one-time charges for the department’s TA spending on fund 101.  (On the sample sheet, the department spent $186,436 in fall 2018 and $226,256 in spring 2019, for a total of $412,692 in FY19.)  The difference between the department’s spending (net of any one-time credits) and its ongoing balance will then be either charged (if net spending exceeds the ongoing balance) or credited (if the ongoing balance exceeds net spending) to the department’s Tally sheet.  (On the sample sheet, the department incurred a one-time Tally sheet charge of $101,033 for FY19, and a one-time Tally sheet credit of $2,811 for FY20.)  Note that any one-time balance is thus shifted to the Tally sheet at the end of each fiscal year, not carried forward on the TA Budget sheet.  The intention is for the Tally sheet to reflect all uncommitted resources available to the department.

The ongoing TA balance should reflect the expected level of annual TA spending.  Thus, when departments significantly increase their TA spending, the L&S Budget Office is authorized to increase the ongoing balance through an ongoing charge to the Tally sheet.  (On the sample sheet, the department’s overspending in FY19 has prompted the Budget Office to increase the ongoing balance in FY20 though a $100,000 ongoing charge to the department’s Tally sheet.)  Similarly, the Budget Office is authorized to decrease the ongoing balance through an ongoing Tally sheet credit if the department underspends its ongoing balance.  The department may also (with permission of the divisional associate dean) proactively increase or decrease its ongoing balance (through an ongoing Tally sheet charge or credit) if it anticipates a significant change in TA spending.  Note that these charges or credits do not alter the total ongoing resources of the department, but merely shift resources between the Tally sheet and the TA Budget sheet to better reflect the department’s expected annual TA spending.  Again, the intention is for the Tally sheet to reflect all uncommitted resources available to the department.

Central campus provides annual budget increases to schools and colleges to permit increases in TA rates.  These budget increases are based on TA expenditures in the previous year.  To pass these budget increases along to L&S departments, we will post an ongoing credit each year based on the percentage change in the department’s TA rate and the department’s TA expenditures in the previous year.  (To illustrate, the sample sheet assumes that the department’s rate increases from $18,350 in FY19 to $18,717 in FY20, representing a 2% increase.  Given the department’s TA expenditures of $412,692 in FY19, the department thus receives a budget increase of 2% * $412,692 = $8,254 in FY20.)

For 2018-19, the College will maintain our usual annual call for TA budget requests and support guarantees, though the format of this planning exercise may begin to change going forward.  All TA spending remains subject to approval by the divisional associate dean.  Nevertheless, instead of relying on historical baselines, departments are encouraged to actively assess their TA needs, balancing them against other potential uses of department resources.  Most departments have been provided with Tally sheet credits in anticipation of enrollment expansion.  We anticipate that some departments will shift at least some of these ongoing credits onto the TA Budget sheet to fund a permanent increase in TA usage.  We anticipate that most departments will maintain their current practices regarding rates, workloads, and appointment percentages for TAs.  Any requests for changes will be reviewed as part of the annual approval process for TA budgets and support guarantees.  

Reader/graders:

Currently, departments request reader/grader hours from the College, and the College covers the costs of any approved hours.  Starting in 2018-19, the decision to hire reader/graders will be delegated to departments, and departments will become responsible for all costs incurred.  To provide initial resources, the L&S Budget Office will compute the average cost of reader/graders used by each department over the past three years, and credit this amount to the department’s TA Budget sheet.  Departments will then incur one-time charges on the TA Budget sheet for all reader/grader hours paid on fund 101.  (To illustrate, the sample TA Budget sheet shows an initial ongoing credit of $5,329, and one-time charges of $8,235 in FY19 and $8,746 in FY20.)  To avoid charges on the TA Budget sheet, departments could instead pay reader/grader hours on non-101 funds (e.g., using summer term profits, 131 program funds, and/or gift funds if allowed by the gift).  Note that the initial ongoing credit to the department’s TA Budget sheet represents an historical benchmark.  Given that departments will bear the total costs for reader/grader hours (or retain the savings), departments may increase or decrease their reader/grader usage from this benchmark.  

Elimination of access funding:

Currently, when increases in course enrollments require allocation of TAs beyond departmental baselines, departments may request additional FTEs from the College, and the College covers the cost of the approved increase through an internal “access” budget.  Over time, much of this access budget has become earmarked for particular departments facing chronic enrollment pressures; these earmarks appear as “permanent access funding” on the department’s baseline document.  The remainder of the access budget is allocated each year by the College as “one-time access funding” on a discretionary basis.

Starting in 2018-19, the College will no longer provide access funding.  All permanent access funding currently shown on departmental baseline documents will be permanently allocated to those departments through ongoing credits to the TA Budget sheet.  (To illustrate, the sample TA Budget sheets shows the department receiving an ongoing credit of $36,700 for 2.0 FTEs of permanent access funding.)  The remainder of the College’s internal access budget (currently distributed as one-time access funding) will also be permanently allocated to selected departments through ongoing credits to the TA Budget sheets.

In anticipation of the new funding that L&S will receive from campus as a result of enrollment expansion, the College has already allocated ongoing Tally sheet credits to some departments for FY18 and to most departments for FY19 and FY20.  These credits are intended to pay for the incremental costs that departments will face as they expand instructional capacity.  The College has not dictated how these credits should be used (on faculty, staff, STS, and/or TAs) on the grounds that those decisions would be better made by departments with the advice and approval of the divisional associate dean.  We anticipate that some  departments will spend at least some of these credits to permanently increase spending on TAs (shifting ongoing balances from the Tally sheet to the new TA Budget sheet).  In order to allocate as much as possible to departments through Tally sheet credits, and to allow departments to determine the best use of resources, the College has not held back any of the anticipated campus funding in order to maintain a college-level access budget.  Instead, all TA costs will be charged to departments through the new TA Budget sheet.

Obviously, enrollment expansion will succeed only if departments add courses, lectures, and sections as needed to accommodate increased student demand.  While departments will incur these incremental instructional costs, they have already been granted Tally sheet credits to cover these expected costs.  To the extent that enrollment in some departments grows more rapidly than originally anticipated, these departments will receive a larger allocation than they would have otherwise in the next biannual reallocation exercise.  Conversely, departments that grow less rapidly than originally anticipated (or fail to accommodate expansion) will receive less in the next reallocation exercise.

Following our current procedures, departments should continue to notify Nancy Westphal-Johnson if they wish to increase TA usage beyond the plan originally approved through the annual TA budget exercise, and all such requests remain subject to College approval.  The College will also continue to monitor course enrollments during registration periods, and may ask departments to open additional course sections as needed.  Departments are encouraged to plan in advance for enrollment expansion to try to avoid crises during registration periods.  Divisional associate deans have been provided with projected course-by-course enrollment increases for each department that may be helpful for planning purposes.


Sample TA Budget Sheet

See Also:




Keywords:BSR, STS, TA Budgets, 2018-2019, FY19, accounting, Budget Status Report, Plenary, L&S Plenary, FY2019, TA, access funding   Doc ID:23042
Owner:Kesha W.Group:L&S Administrative Gateway
Created:2012-03-08 14:21 CDTUpdated:2021-08-05 14:12 CDT
Sites:L&S Administrative Gateway
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