Last winter, principals from across the School District of Palm Beach County (SDPBC) engaged in a game of Budget Hold’em for Schools facilitated by ERS team members. They discussed how to align resources with specific school priorities such as how to provide more time for student learning and teacher collaboration. They also looked at the big picture and discussed what principals could accomplish with more flexibility and autonomy over their resources.
ERS facilitated separate sessions of Budget Hold’em for Schools for elementary, middle school, and high school principals to focus on how resource tradeoffs can create opportunities to implement elements of strategic school design during a day-long principals’ meeting. After reviewing the principles of strategic school design and reading the school case study customized to their grade levels, principals split into groups of 3-5 and spent about 30 minutes reviewing all of the Hold’em cards and deciding which cards they would select for the coming year based on the needs of the school case study. Of course, as with a real school, they had to do so while remaining budget neutral, meaning every resource investment card needed to be matched with an equal or greater savings card.
The impact? The exercise inspired many principals to review their budgets when they returned to their schools and think deeply about some resource strategies they could begin planning for next year.