School Finance Budget Reduction Plan and Justification Essay

School Finance Budget Reduction Plan and Justification Essay

This assignment is twofold. You will first make a Budget Reduction Plan for a public high school and then write a justification essay.

1) Budget Reduction Plan
a) You are a principal who has been told by the superintendent to cut the school budget. Use the information sheet, “Budget Cuts” (I will upload this with some other resources) to view content, context, and tools for completing this assignment, including details about your role as the principal and the school budget breakdown.

b) Use the School Budget Breakdown table as presented in the aforementioned resource (“Budget Cuts”) to fully develop a budget reduction plan that addresses the budget cuts required by the superintendent. Identify and describe the primary sources of revenue available to your school, including:
i) Maintenance and operations budget allocations
ii) Capital budget
iii) Soft capital budget allocations
iv) Bonds
v) Federal grants
vi) State grants
vii) Title money
viii) Overrides
ix) Extracurricular fees
x) Tax credits
xi) Other

c) Identify the primary items paid for with each of the aforementioned sources of revenue.

d) Identify the source of each revenue stream (e.g., the maintenance and operations budget is funded by the state on a per-student basis from primary property tax; bonds are levies voted on by the community and paid for through a secondary property tax).

e) Identify the primary use of each source of revenue (e.g., the maintenance and operations budget is used to pay salaries or purchase consumable instructional supplies).

f) Identify what, if any, limitations are placed on each source of revenue (e.g., soft capital dollars cannot be used for salaries or stipends).

g) Identify which of the budget items above could be cut to meet the district requirements and from which revenue streams. Place your suggested cuts in the three areas below: Priority 1 will be cut first and Priority 3 will be cut last. Identify those cuts that afford the least impact to student learning.
i) Priority 1 areas
ii) Priority 2 areas
iii) Priority 3 areas

h) Identify those in a school who might be included in and excluded from the budgetary decision-making process. These persons would comprise a stakeholder team. Provide a rationale as to why you included/excluded each.

i) APA format is not required, but solid writing skill in APA style is expected.

2) Justification Essay
a) Write an essay (1,000-1,250 words) that discusses your justification for the items you chose to remove from the school budget and how you will meet the district requirements as you implement your plan of action. Consider the following:

i) How will your plan ensure that the appropriate stakeholders were involved in the process?
ii) How will your plan be implemented?
iii) How will you identify the programs to be preserved?
iv) How does your plan ensure the continued educability of all in spite of the budget reductions?
v) How does your plan continue to embrace the district’s vision of high standards of learning?
vi) How will your plan be communicated effectively to staff, parents, students, and community members?
vii) How will your plan determine the effectiveness of the cuts over time?
viii) How does your plan identify alternative sources of funding to replace the funding lost?

b) Prepare this assignment according to the APA guidelines.



School Finance Budget Reduction Plan and Justification Essay
Points Possible 30

Criteria Achievement Level
Unsatisfactory Less Than Satisfactory Satisfactory Good Excellent
Budget Reduction Plan: Budget Proposal 0 points
Fails to address criteria of the assignment. 7.8 points
Some assignment criteria are present, but they are limited in detail and scope. 9 points
All assignment criteria are clearly discernable within the budget proposal. Strategies, curriculum, and instructional programs are individualized to stakeholders and measurable in outcomes. School profile is fully integrated into the plan. School’s role within the community is defined. 10.2 points
Criteria are detailed, comprehensive, and creatively presented. 12 points
Strategies and descriptions are at a high level of specificity as to the roles and responsibilities of individual stakeholders.
Justification Essay Criteria 0 points
Fails to address criteria of the assignment. 4.88 points
Some assignment criteria are present, but they are limited in detail and scope. 5.63 points
All assignment criteria are clearly discernable within the body of the essay; justification for specific cuts is presented. 6.38 points
Criteria are detailed and comprehensive; justification is reasonable and credible. 7.5 points
Indicates a high degree of understanding of the effect of the cuts on the major stakeholders within a school community.
Critical Thinking 0 points
Plan demonstrates little original thought and is unclear or simplistic. 1.95 points
Plan presents guidance for informed decision making for continuous school improvement, though inconsistently and with some gaps. 2.25 points
Plan demonstrates original thought regarding its composition and ability to inform decision making. 2.55 points
Identifies and assesses conclusions, implications, and consequences of the plan. 3 points
Demonstrates ownership for constructing knowledge and framing an original plan.
Essay Structure, Paragraph Development, and Transitions 0 points
Paragraphs and transitions consistently lack unity and coherence. No apparent connections between paragraphs. Transitions are inappropriate to purpose and scope. Organization is disjointed. 0.98 points
Some paragraphs and transitions may lack logical progression of ideas, unity, coherence, and/or cohesiveness. Some degree of organization is evident. 1.13 points
Paragraphs are generally competent, but ideas may show some inconsistency in organization and/or in their relationship to each other. 1.28 points
A logical progression of ideas between paragraphs is apparent. Paragraphs exhibit a unity, coherence, and cohesiveness. Topic sentences and concluding remarks are used as appropriate to purpose, discipline, and scope. 1.5 points
There is a sophisticated construction of the essay. Ideas collectively progress and relate to each other. The writer has been careful to use paragraph and transition construction to guide the reader.
Paper Format
(Use of appropriate style for the major and assignment) 0 points
Template is not used appropriately, or documentation format is rarely followed correctly. 0.98 points
Appropriate template is used, but some elements are missing or mistaken. A lack of control with formatting is apparent. 1.13 points
Appropriate template is used. Formatting is correct, although some minor errors may be present. 1.28 points
Appropriate template is fully used. There are virtually no errors in formatting style. 1.5 points
All format elements are correct.
Research Citations
(In-text citations for paraphrasing and direct quotes, and reference page listing and formatting, as appropriate to assignment and style) 0 points
No reference page is included. No citations are used. 0.98 points
Reference page is present. Citations are inconsistently used. 1.13 points
Reference page is included and lists sources used in the paper. Sources are appropriately documented, although some errors may be present 1.28 points
Reference page is present and fully inclusive of all cited sources. Documentation is appropriate and citation style is usually correct. 1.5 points
In-text citations and a reference page are complete and correct. The documentation of cited sources is free of error.
Language Use and Audience Awareness (includes sentence construction, word choice, etc.) 0 points

Inappropriate word choice and/or sentence construction, lack of variety in language use. Writer appears to be unaware of audience. 0.98 points

Inconsistencies in language choice sentence structure, and/or word choice are present. The writer exhibits some lack of control in using figures of speech appropriately. 1.13 points

Sentence structure is correct and occasionally varies. Language is appropriate to the targeted audience for the most part. 1.28 points

The writer is clearly aware of the audience; uses a variety of sentence structures and appropriate vocabulary for the target audience; uses figures of speech to communicate clearly. 1.5 points

The writer uses a variety of sentence constructions, figures of speech, and word choice in unique and creative ways that are appropriate to purpose, discipline, and scope.
Mechanics of Writing
(includes spelling, punctuation, grammar, and language use) 0 points
Surface errors are pervasive enough that they impede communication of meaning. Inappropriate word choice and/or sentence construction are employed. 0.98 points
Frequent and repetitive mechanical errors distract the reader. Inconsistencies in language choice (register) and/or word choice are present. 1.13 points
Some mechanical errors or typos are present, but are not overly distracting to the reader. Audience-appropriate language is employed. 1.28 points
Prose is largely free of mechanical errors, although a few may be present. The writer uses a variety of sentence structures and effective figures of speech. 1.5 points
The writer is clearly in command of standard, written academic English.
The Reality of School Finance

Some of the following reading for the course. May some will help. The pdfs will be uploaded to this assignment.
• Read “8th Annual Salary Survey” by Dessoff, from District Administration (2008).
• Read “Environmentally Friendly Schools Payoff” by LaFee, from Education Digest (2008).
• Read “The Dutch Experience With Weighted Student Funding” by Fiske and Ladd, from Phi Delta Kappan (2010).
• Read “Property Taxation and Equity in Public School Finance” by Kent and Sowards, from Journal of Property Tax Assessment & Administration (2009).
• Read “The Effect of School Finance Reforms on the Level and Growth of Per-Pupil Expenditures” by Downes and Shah, from Peabody Journal of Education (2006).
• Read “Finance Structures and How They Constrain Resource Allocation,” located on the Center on Reinventing Public Education Web site at
• Explore The Education Trust Web site, located at, for information about school funding.
Determining where to allocate resources is a big job for school administrators. While the majority of the school budget is allocated toward staff compensation and benefits, the rest of the budget allocations need to be prioritized in a manner that helps the district meet goals and standards for student academic performance. This lesson will discuss district resource allocation, including teacher salaries, building level allocations, and the education of special populations.
How Schools Allocate and Use Resources
Expenditures are usually divided into categories, such as professional salaries, classified salaries, employee benefits, materials and supplies, and capital expenditures. States also collect expenditure data by broad program area or function, such as instruction, administration, transportation, plant operations and maintenance, and debt service. In addition to hiring licensed staff members such as teachers, administrators, and specialized staff (librarians, counselors, etc.), school districts also hire instructional aides, cafeteria workers, custodians, and other staff members to keep the school running. The single biggest expenditure in school districts is for personnel. However, the number of instructional staff is declining while more instructional aides are being hired (Silva, 2009).
In 1950, teachers made up 74% of the total school staff. In 1960, that percentage fell to 64% and in 1995 that number dropped to 52% of individuals identified as instructional staff (Picus, 2000). The percentage of teachers dropped nearly 33% in the second half of the 20th century; many teachers have been replaced by instructional aides and pupil support staff, which cuts down on human resources (HR) expenses. However, the budget cut is not proportional; technology expenses and other programs have increased in the budget while the core teacher percentage has decreased (Odden&Picus, 2004). On the other hand, President Obama promised to allocate $517.3 million of the 2010 federal budget toward teacher salary incentives (U.S. Department of Education, 2009).
Teacher Salary
Most districts compensate teachers under a single salary schedule wherein teachers are provided compensation based on years of experience and level of education (Strizek et al., 2006). These schedules typically set a minimum and maximum salary. The advantages of a single salary schedule include:
• Equality in awarding pay.
• Salaries are awarded based on objective criteria.
• A predictable and easily understood system for calculating pay. (Goldhaber et al., 2007)
Disadvantages to single salary schedules include:
• They provide rewards for things that are at best loosely connected to teacher performance quality (Brimley & Garfield, 2008).
• They do not differentiate job rigor between teaching positions (Prince, 2002).
• They reduce the opportunity for rewarding those with special skills or aptitude additional pay (Goldhaber et al., 2007; Goldhaber& Liu, 2003).
Keep in mind that teacher salary schedules are created to inform both teachers and the system. From a teacher standpoint, the advantage of a scale includes predictability of compensation and acknowledgement for taking on additional duties or pursing advanced degrees. Ideally, these systems serve to promote the values and beliefs the organization intends to promote.
From the position of the Board of Education, salary scales create a predictable mechanism for budget alignment that allows the district to ensure that they have the appropriate resource levels available to sustain the work being done in the classroom. Over time, districts can begin to become strategic in predicting how staff members move through the scale and in anticipating cost implications. This level of transparency and organization also helps in maintaining relationships with the community.
Building-Level Allocations
The establishment of building-level allocations is driven to a great extent by factors such as the size of the school district and its management philosophy (Brimley & Garfield, 2008). Some districts, for example, have highly centralized management structures wherein many budgetary line items are centralized rather than allocated for control at the building level. A more centralized allocation is often easier to manage from a district perspective and can provide economy of scale due to point-of-purchase leverage (Brimley & Garfield, 2008).
Conversely, a more decentralized budget allows for increased levels of control at the building level. Fundamentally, this allows principals or building project managers to change their line item allocations as needs arise and opportunities avail themselves. For example, a principal may be working with staff and decide to shift line item allocations for field trips and paper and instead purchase technology resources. With more technology, the need for paper may diminish and Internet accessibility may allow teachers to take advantage of virtual field trips, thus saving money in the long run. This local flexibility is not possible in highly centralized districts where building level allocations are neither flexible nor negotiable (Brimley & Garfield, 2008).
However, from a district perspective, the capacity to drive down price when making purchases is dramatically increased when, for example, a district’s budget director purchases consumables such as paper or hardware on a much larger scale. Just about every district ebbs and flows in its degree of comfort between both centralized and decentralized budget functions (Brimley & Garfield, 2008).
Education Special Populations
What districts must also keep in mind is that educating groups of children can have very different cost structures from one district to the next based on the cost of doing business and based on the special needs of the population being served. For example, the state of New York could look at the average cost of educating a child in its state and come up with a per-pupil dollar amount. That dollar amount however, may be much lower than the actual cost of educating a child from a highly impoverished urban area where very few community members speak English as their primary language (Brimley & Garfield, 2008).
Conversely there are rural areas in New York state where the cost of living is much less than in Buffalo or New York City. However, the per-pupil transportation costs in these urban settings would be dramatically influenced by the geographic challenges they face. Other times, communities can be dramatically impacted by shifts in the population. For example, after Hurricane Katrina, there were a number of school districts in Texas that inherited thousands of families from New Orleans, all migrating to Texas to find relief from the devastation they experienced.
Furthermore, some districts experience unplanned immigration of citizens from other countries; all moving into the area due to work or family connections (Brimley & Garfield, 2008). If a dozen families from Vietnam decide to all come to a community to live and work, the children served in that public school will likely have unique needs that will need to be considered when establishing a budget allocation.
Finally, other factors such as shifts in the economy have a huge impact as well. If a large and profitable manufacturing plant is erected in town, it will likely bring hundreds or even thousands of new community members to the area. Depending on the work being done, the needs of the students who come along with these new families must be considered in constructing a budget. What makes school finance so challenging is the fact that even the most sensitive economic and population predictors cannot account for these types of changes coming to the district (Brimley & Garfield, 2008).


All of the aspects of this course should be addressed when developing a school budget. Administrators must be aware of all of the revenue sources for the budget, as well as how to respond to changes in available resources. In addition, legal knowledge will empower school leaders to make appropriate decisions regarding grants and other programs. When creating a budget, the more administrators know about the school’s rights and responsibilities, the better they will be able to address the needs of all the educational stakeholders.

Brimley, V., & Garfield, R. (2008).Financing education (10th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.
Goldhaber, D., DeArmond, M., Liu, A, & Player, D. (2007).Returns to skill and teacher wage premiums: What can we learn by comparing the teacher and private sector labor markets? School Finance Redesign Project Working Paper No. 8. Seattle, WA: Center on Reinventing Public Education.
Goldhaber, D., & Liu, A. (2003). Occupational choices and the academic proficiency of the teacher workforce. In Developments in school finance: 2001-02 – Fiscal proceedings from the annual state data conferences of July 2001 and July 2002. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education/National Center for Education Statistics.
Odden, A., &Picus, L. (2004). School finance. New York: McGraw Hill.
Picus, L. O. (2000). How schools allocate and use their resources. ERIC Digest 143. Retrieved December 6, 2004, from
Prince, C. D. (2002).Higher pay in hard-to-staff schools: The case for financial incentives. Arlington, VA: American Association of School Administrators.
Silva, E. (2009). Teachers at work: Improving teacher quality through school design. Education Sector Reports. Retrieved October 16, 2010 from
Strizek, G. A., Pittsonberger, J. L., Riordan, K. E., Lyter, D. M., &Orlofsky, G. F. (2006). Characteristics of schools, districts, teachers, principals, and school libraries in the United States: 2003-04 schools and staffing survey. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education/National Center for Education Statistics.
U.S. Department of Education. (2009). Fiscal year 2010 budget summary—May 7, 2009.Retrieved August 7, 2009, from


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