budget change


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Hand 3: Balancing Quality with Big Savings

Net Budget Change = -3.2%

This hand prioritizes teaching quality and instruction in core academic subjects, taking advantage of low and no-cost improvements and the largest savings levers – school funding, operations, class size, compensation, and staffing policies.


  • Reduce average English/Language Arts and math class size for grade 9 by 6 to support transition to high school
    0.6% Why?
  • Provide a week of professional development for principals on teacher evaluation, using available summer time at no additional cost
    0.0% Why?
  • Increase funding to schools that are underfunded on a per pupil basis
    1.0% Why?
  • Increase teacher salary by $10K for teachers in hard to staff subjects
    1.7% Why?
  • Reduce average class size for grades K-2 from 21 to 17 by adding one additional classroom per grade in each school
    2.0% Why?


  • Bring special education class sizes from 70% to 75% of target size as mandated in staffing ratios and Individual Education Plans (IEP)
    -0.6% Why?
  • Reduce special education aides by 20% by rewriting Individual Education Plans (IEPs) to more flexibly provide 1:1 and small group support
    -0.2% Why?
  • Eliminate cost of living adjustments (COLA) and replace with market based adjustments when revenues allow
    -0.8% Why?
  • Freeze salary step increases for one year for all employee contracts
    -1.0% Why?
  • Furlough teachers for three days
    -0.7% Why?
  • Increase average Elementary special subject (music, art, Phys. Ed.) class size by 5
    -0.5% Why?
  • Increase average Secondary School class size by 2
    -1.4% Why?
  • Increase average Secondary class size in non-core/elective classes only by 4 (“non-core” subjects are subjects other than English/Language Arts, Social Studies, Math, Science and World Language)
    -0.8% Why?
  • Close/Consolidate under-enrolled schools to increase district utilization from 85% to 90%
    -0.5% Why?
  • Reduce extra spending on very small schools by 25% by changing staffing models and funding formulas
    -0.8% Why?
  • Lease unused and after school space to community groups and other users
    -0.2% Why?
  • Replace the top 5% most expensive high school classes with comparable on-line offerings
    -0.2% Why?
  • Provide 10% of non-core/elective classes through community partnership resources (“non-core” subjects are subjects other than English/Language Arts, Social Studies, Math, Science and World Language)
    -0.1% Why?
  • Eliminate teacher coaches
    -0.7% Why?


  • Improving teaching through collaborative planning and leadership support
  • Focusing on early intervention and English/language arts and math with small group instruction in transitional grades


  • Reducing funding imbalances between schools and utilizing excess school capacity
  • Improving facilities, and SPED management
  • Changing benefit packages and policies around salary increases, and COLA
  • Increasing class sizes in special subjects, secondary schools and grades 4 and 5.

To understand where the greatest potential for cost savings exists, use the % Budget sort button. Without these politically charged yet necessary savings areas, there will be little to put toward teaching effectiveness, core academic instruction, and early intervention.

Your individual district context will dictate variations on these themes as you sort through what you can target in the short and long-term. What is important is that you see these cards as critical trade-offs that can get you closer to reform during these tough fiscal times.

As you contemplate controversial changes to compensation, class size or building usage, you'll need to consider your political capital. Cuts will be more palatable with clear communication of the decision process and corresponding gains. Developing a sequenced approach over several budget cycles will allow you to communicate your goals, build consensus, and avoid trying to introduce too many changes at once.