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Gamble with Our Children’s Future

Play School Budget Hold’em

As school districts struggle to balance their budgets and contemplate deep cuts, some people think they could do a better job than those in the central office or on the board dais. Well, here’s your chance.

Play School Budget Hold’Em, an online game that lets you set your target budget-cut percentage and then pick where to spend more and where to spend less. Education Resource Strategies, a nonprofit organization that works with urban school districts to develop strategic and spending plans, developed the program. The group says:

School Budget Hold’em is more than a game…it’s an interactive exploration of the thoughtful trade-offs school administrators have to make in these challenging budget times. Playing the right cards can create lasting improvement — transforming your district to make the most of every budget dollar, while increasing student success.

The project was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

You should also know that ERS calls its descriptions of costs and savings of budget cuts and investments “educated estimates.” For example, they say that cutting employee benefit costs by 10 percent will result in 2 percent savings out of a district’s overall budget:

Employee benefits account for over 20% of total district expenditures. Replacing expensive and unusually generous one-size-fits-all packages with a menu of benefit options and increasing the employee level of contribution can yield significant savings.

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