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Toolkit: What is Student-Based Budgeting? How can it drive student learning?

Implementing an equity-focused school funding model as a part of broader district strategy


Sam entered 6th grade at Everytown Middle School reading at a 3rd grade level. His English Language Arts (ELA) teacher wants to help, but she can't give him the special attention he needs. Sam can’t keep up, and begins to hate reading. 

But Everytown Middle School is in a district that is shifting to student-based budgeting. Soon the principal gets more flexibility over her school budget, as well as support to identify trends in student needs. Reading proficiency is a big problem at Everytown MS. Next year, she reorganizes the schedule, increasing ELA class sizes for some students and decreasing class sizes for other students like Sam. She is able to make staffing tradeoffs to hire extra reading interventionists. By 8th grade Sam's reading skills greatly improve - along with his confidence in school. 

Defining Student-based budgeting

Student-Based Budgeting (SBB) goes by many names, including Student-Based Allocations (SBA), Weighted Student Funding (WSF)Fair Student Funding (FSF), or Student-Centered Funding (SCF). Regardless of its name, SBB is a funding system whereby dollars follow students based on student need. Or, more specifically, it describes any district funding model that: allocates dollars instead of staff or materials, is based on the number of students, and uses objective and measurable student characteristics as weights.

Student-Based Budgeting (SBB) allocates dollars to schools based on the number of enrolled students, where each student receives a funding "weight" based on need. This model can allow districts to increase equity, transparency, and flexibility.


Transforming School Funding for Equity, Transparency, and Flexibility: An Introduction to Student-Based Budgeting

Is SBB is right for your district? Find out with this guide, which is an updated version of our popular 2014 publication.

Download The Guide

Readiness Assessment (Excel)

Is your district ready for SBB? This tool details a set of questions to help you determine if SBB is right for your district at this time.

Download The Tool

Transforming School Funding for Equity, Transparency, and Flexibility:
A Nuts-and-Bolts Guide to Implementing Student-Based Budgeting

Ready to implement SBB? This detailed manual describes how to prepare for it, how to design the formula, and how to rollout the model.

Download The Guide

SBB Financial Modeling Tool (Excel)

Understand the mechanics of an SBB formula, and begin to build your own.

Download The Tool

Sample SBB School Workbook (Excel)

Get help thinking through the information schools need to create their budgets under an SBB system.
(Note: The previous version of this file may not have been compatible with some computer systems; we have updated it and it should work for everyone now)

Download The Workbook

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We welcome the opportunity to partner with your district to better align resources and generate a significant impact for your students, your schools, and your communities.


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Strategic school systems place student-based budgeting within a holistic strategy for system-wide change. This means connecting it to other elements like:

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