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Student-Based Budgeting In the Wild

A Video Introduction

Recently, ERS Analyst Jeff Gordon and I interviewed Leo Flanagan, principal of Edwards Middle School in Charlestown, MA, about the realities of implementing a student-based budgeting system (also known as “weighted student funding”). We wanted to share his experience with other principals in districts just starting the new funding system. Through his firsthand account of how managing a school budget can change a principal’s job, we hope to help other principals understand both the benefits and challenges of this kind of change.

The four-and-a-half minute video was presented to leaders from two current ERS district partners: Austin Independent School District and Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

In Cleveland, the video was presented to principals who are leading the design of the district’s student-based budgeting system. In moving to this system, one of Cleveland’s foremost goals is to empower its principals to design their schools as they see fit. That’s why it was so important to provide Principal Flanagan’s real-world example of how he has used his budget flexibility to make strategic trade-offs in pursuit of student achievement. Thanks to their deep investment in designing the new system—and in part, thanks to this video—we are confident that these leading principals will be able to help their peers understand the opportunities and challenges they will soon experience through student-based budgeting.

In Austin, the video was shown to principals, members of the central leadership staff, and members of the school board of trustees to help them understand an example of the design choices available to a principal with flexibility in a student-based budgeting system. The leadership of Austin ISD is considering offering additional flexibility to campuses to better align their resource use to student needs.

View our District Partners page for more on our district work.

Thank you to Principal Flanagan for offering his time and expertise to help other districts understand student-based budgeting. And thank you to David Rosenberg, Manager and Practice Head for Strategic Initiatives at ERS, for this innovative idea to help our clients in an exciting new way.

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