EDLE 665 Finance
July 11, 2005
Can it fit on a bumper sticker?
The process of developing an effective school budget is
guided by two fundamental truths; first, that schools exist
to educate students, and second, that the process by which
the budget is constructed and the results of said process
must be easily articulated by all stakeholders.
Just as the Constitution of the United States is the
supreme measure of lawful conduct in America, the mission,
goals, and objectives of a school district must direct all
activity, including the formation of the budget.
district’s mission, goals, and objectives are built to
define the programs, services, and activities it will
These programs, services, and activities are the
site-based units that, in turn, must prepare their own
goals and objectives.
performance targets, which are stated in terms of outcomes
Each unit objective should have
(Garner et al, 2004)
A skillful administrator will “align” the energy of his or
her stakeholders by creating a collective sense of purpose.
The input of students, teachers, parents, school committee
members, and active community members is tantamount to
achieving the goals of the school, for it is they who
teach, learn, and pay. They are the primary messengers and
are needed to spread the message that they had a part in
creating, and, that is consistent and simple. Though it may
be a lofty aspiration, any member of the community should
be able to tell you what the school’s priorities are, if
they can’t, the message is too complicated.
Fit it on a
Achieving alignment and creating a simple message is very
challenging and requires leadership that is selfless,
persistent, patient, and visionary.
Celtics (winner of eleven world championships in
thirteen years) demonstrate a phenomenon we have come to
call “alignment,” when a group of people function as a
In most teams, the energies of individual members
work at cross purposes.
of the relatively unaligned team is wasted energy.
Individuals may work extraordinarily hard, but their
The fundamental characteristic
efforts do not efficiently translate to team effort.
contrast, when a team becomes more aligned, a commonality
of direction emerges, as individuals’ energies harmonize.”
Within the high school, department heads present their line
item budget to the Principal in three forms:
last years figures (level funding), one containing a 2%
reduction in departmental funding, and one reflecting a 3
one based on
This process provides department leaders
with a reflective exercise, and one that provides a jumping
off point if cuts are needed.
Each department is responsible for creating a
modified “zero based” budget once every five years.
is, they begin with 70% of last year’s budget, and build it
All budget requests must be supported by the
bench marks set for their department.
Arguably the most difficult part of the budget cycle
happens following the implementation of these action steps.
The institution must support risk taking and missed goals,
and allow leaders to discuss what works and doesn’t work
This is easier said then done.
we will pay for intellectual dishonesty will result in
fewer opportunities for students.
stories of our hero’s who never gave up, who were rejected
and failed over and over again, struggling agaist adversity
beyond comprehension, but when it comes to our child, or
our class, or our school, some would rather spin than grow.
American’s love to tell
Alignment will, in my lifetime, result in an end to annual
America’s complex dichotomy of
competition and compassion, capitalism and philanthropy,
will resolve and succumb to it’s fundamental belief in
freedom and equal opportunity through the acquisition of