Submitted by: Blake Prewitt, Superintendent, Lakeview School District
Recently, I had the privilege of presenting a session on how achievement influences budgeting. Schools often say that achievement is our number one goal, but how often are budget decisions made on other factors? Since 85% of school budgets are staff expenses, there is no way to get into budget conversations without concern for someone’s job. This ends up leading the budget conversations way too many times, especially at the Board table. Without good data, it is very hard for budget conversations to not get into personnel.
For example, your district is under-spending at your Title I buildings but overspending on your non-title buildings. A majority of the parents that you and the Board hear from are from the non-title buildings. Having both spending data and achievement data helps focus budget conversations. In my district, we spent a considerable amount on Tier II and Tier III academic and behavioral supports. During this time, our achievement decreased in our elementary schools. As we evaluated, we noticed that we lost focus on our Tier I interventions. We will be changing the way we allocate funds to better support Tier I, but that will mean some of the Tier II and Tier III programs will disappear. We have the academic and financial data to support that, even though it will mean a change in personnel and moving away from some programs the Board has supported in the past. Data allows you to keep the conversation focused on achievement and not the other issues.