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« E-mail rapture - two days in... | Main | Budgeting for Mean, Lean Times Part 4 »
Sunday
Dec202009

Budgeting for Mean, Lean Times Part 5

5.  I can write an outcome driven budget that is specific in supporting curricular and school improvement goals.

Types of budgets.
There are a variety of ways to create budgets. Alice Warner describes six:

  • lump sum
  • formula
  •  line or line item
  • program
  • performance or function
  • zero-based (Warner, 1993)

While it is good to know the distinctions among these budget types, they can basically be divided into two groups - those that are arbitrarily created and those that are outcome driven. How does budgeting work in your school: Are you given a sum of money and then told to make the most of it, or do you develop an effective program and then ask for the money to support it? If you are doing the former, change to the latter.

Get out your spreadsheets, and clearly show decision-makers how much money your program requires if it is to be effective. How can anyone give you what you want, if you yourself can’t determine it or communicate it? Be sure they know the consequences in terms of student learning of an unfunded or underfunded budget.

Know and follow district budgeting schedules. If your capital outlay requests are due February 15, then have them in on the 14th.

Good budgets have three components:Good program-driven budgets have three major components:

  • goals - this is the effect my funded program will have on student learning
  • specificity - this is how much money I want, and this is exactly how I will spend it
  • assessment - this is how I will be able to tell you if the money you give my program helped it met its goals

Too often budgets have relied on state or national standards as a rationale for funds for resources and collection building. (The Colorado study shows..., Information Power says..., School Library Journal reports...) Just as there is cynicism about the political process across the nation, so is there a general distrust in statistics. The belief that statistics don’t lie, but liars can use statistics is deeply and widely felt. (After all, 86% of all statistics are made up.)

Use local needs and objectives:
Communicate information about standards and studies, but build a budget based on the specific needs of your individual curricula, students, and teachers. The fact that Mrs. Green’s science students need more current and varied resources for their solar system unit will carry more weight that any state rule or national standard.

Relate your budget to your district’s or building’s long-range plans.

Use an advisory group (see section 10)
Remember that media budgets which come as a recommendation of a media/technology advisory committee carry more weight than those developed by the individual media specialist. Who wants to turn down a whole group, especially if that group includes parents, students, and teachers?

Warner, A. “Library Budget Primer”. Wilson Library Bulletin. May 1993

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