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ERS’ original School Budget Hold'em evolved out of our experience working with large urban districts around the country. School Budget Hold’em-California is an evolution of the original game, adapted for California’s unique context under LCFF. Our goal was to create an engaging, interactive way for administrators to think differently about how they allocate resources. The budget impacts associated with various "card" choices are estimates based on real districts—your circumstances may vary.
We've seen firsthand how most district and school leaders deal with the budget process. They make minor adjustments to the previous year's budget, hoping to preserve existing positions and perhaps purchase some new materials. They often separate budgeting from school planning. These routine efforts are typically made against the backdrop of looming deadlines, with little time spent reflecting on or rethinking current practice to improve outcomes.
What if the budget season were a time for dreams and visions? What kind of schools would we imagine for our own children and for the talented teachers in them? School Budget Hold'em-California lets you take a moment to explore your dreams and visions. Don’t just automatically add back cuts you’ve made in the past; suspend disbelief and see how thinking differently can drive game-changing transformation.
ERS has identified seven top priorities that address the federal, state, and local barriers to using resources well and suggests alternative ways to organize, spend, and maximize resources.
The original School Budget Hold'em was made possible through funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York. School Budget Hold’em-California was made possible through funding from the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation in California.