More and more districts—and several states—are adopting funding models like student-based budgeting (also called weighted student funding or fair student funding) to increase equity and promote principal autonomy. Giving school leaders new resources and new flexibility is a good first step, but it doesn't automatically lead to improved student outcomes. It’s what happens to those resources at the school-level that will make the difference for students.
This paper uses our work with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) to show how a student-based budgeting (SBB) funding system must go hand-in-hand with what we call Strategic School Design, a practice in which school leaders start with a strong vision for student success, and are empowered to reorganize resources around that vision. Through our work with CMSD, we identified seven critical success factors to creating a powerful SBB-Strategic School Design reform strategy, covering such topics as leadership, process, preparation, and accountability.