As a new principal at Kingsbury Middle School, with limited access to resources, I embraced the challenge to ensure all students had the opportunity to transform hope into action. Believing that all students deserve a safe environment that is conducive to learning, I embraced the notion of student based budgeting.
In the Fall of 2016, our school was selected to be one of six cohort schools to create an instructional leadership team and collaborate with Education Resource Strategies (ERS) in a three-year effort to engage in comprehensive professional development that included school design, implementation, and continued improvement. During early sessions, we engaged in school design vision and learning modules. Later, our team developed a three-year plan of implementation and continued improvement. We were able to creatively show our vision for student success, outlining the concrete resource implications. We set priorities for next year’s schedule that advance our building blocks. By galvanizing families and community partners around our new priorities, we were able to incorporate innovative strategies for next year. We actively involved our students and their families in the discussion on selecting and improving current instructional supports.
Education funding decisions should be intentional. With this in mind, Kingsbury Middle’s budget team explored every angle and made thoughtful tradeoffs. I believe that creating an environment for lasting improvement is transformative. We must make the most of every dollar while increasing student access and opportunities for success.
Our first strategic move was to organize people, time and money to maximize student-learning opportunities. We made specific choices on how to leverage available resources to achieve learning priorities. Being led through the process by ERS, both in person or online, increased our knowledge level so that we could make informed decisions based on clear objectives.
In developing the schedule, budget, and staffing for year one, we chose to expedite ELA for our highest needs students to ensure progress towards proficiency in learning the English language. We are hiring two additional ELA teachers to drive this work. In addition, we made some cost neutral operational changes. Our schedule will reflect more planning time for our 6th grade teachers. Their students will also receive more enrichment and intervention. Our School Design Action Plan aided us in developing our Theory of Action and Description of Success. Throughout, I reflected on this process, revised building blocks, and remained open to making trade-offs.
I entered budget checkout this school year with an increased budget and more flexibility. Now it is time to ensure all monies are allocated based on the needs of our students. One of the most difficult tasks to date has been to “break-the-mold” on our schedule and create an effective staffing plan. Achieving educational and budgetary goals requires all stakeholders’ involvement and thinking differently about where to invest for the sake of our students.