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“Smart School Budgeting” Sparks Conversation

Today I attended Smart School Budgeting, an event presented by the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy. Our Executive Director, Karen Hawley Miles, gave the keynote speech at the meeting, which was held to shed some light on the resource challenges that districts face and to share ways to rethink how to better serve students. The audience was great mix of practitioners, researchers and advocates.

The Rennie Center first unveiled its new online resource guide, Smart School Budgeting: Resources for Districts. This new and exciting tool is a summary of existing resources and articles centered around topics of school finance and resource allocation, and it's purpose is to help district leaders and school business officials better shape resource decisions. Chad d'Entremont, Executive Director of Rennie Center, emphasized that there is no magic bullet, no solution, that works best for all districts. "This tool is a way to show you the options that are out there," he said. "Today is not about finding solutions but about starting the discussion."

After exploring the tool (during which Hold'em was highlighted), Karen gave the keynote address, which painted the picture of the current system and highlighted top priorities for restructuring it to improve education and spending. See Karen's presentation below.

An excellent panel of education leaders and thinkers then discussed their experiences with increasing efficiencies while decreasing costs. Their array of experiences and circumstances made for a very insightful discussion. Worcester Public Schools recently implemented a zero-based budgeting system, while Boston Public Schools recently began a weighted student funding formula, for example.

The panel was comprised of:

  • Dr. Melinda Boone, Superintendent of Worcester Public Schools
  • John McDonough, Chief Financial Officer of Boston Public Schools
  • Dr. Mark Paige, Assistant Professor of UMass-Dartmouth
  • Jeff Wulfson, Deputy Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

A big thank you to the Rennie Center for inviting Karen to speak. We're very excited to explore the new tool and to see what conversations and thinking will result from it.

Read our follow-up blog, titled Smart School Budgeting: Continuing the Conversation, based on remarks from BPS CFO John McDonough.

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