Yesterday I accompanied ERS Principal Associate Randi Feinberg to a convening for the Massachusetts Association of School Business Officials (MASBO). Randi gave an overview of ERS' work and then led the group in a session of School Budget Hold'em. It was so great to see how participants interact with Hold'em and to hear the rich conversations the game sparks.
MASBO is a non-profit organization of school administrators, many of which are responsible for finances and accounting, among other business administration areas. Several audience members said Hold'em resonated for various reasons. Karen Auth, Director of School Finance for Westford Public Schools, said that though the target audience for Hold'em is large districts, the principles behind the game still apply to small districts like hers. She also said, "It would be great to have our townspeople look at this, so they can see the challenges we face."
Ed Vozzella, the Director of Finance and Operations for Mansfield Public Schools, added, "I'd like to play this with parent groups so they can appreciate how difficult the tradeoffs are in budgeting."
Chad d'Entremont of Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy presented before Randi and focused on an online public database of resources, which the center will unveil soon. The tool provides links to information based on search terms and includes many ERS resources. During his demonstration of the new database, Chad showed the audience the online version of School Budget Hold'em, demonstrating how the game lets discussions about tough financial challenges happen in a different context.
A big thank you goes to Rennie Center for highlighting our tools, and to MASBO for inviting us to present.