Thursday, May 19, 2016

Budgets: Beyond Spreadsheets and Powerpoints (MASBO)

DESE is coming up with post-assessment guidelines for PDPs for SBOs: being piloted today, so there is a quiz on the back of the evaluation
And yes, this one is WPS's own Brian Allen

to use as a policy document, to use for information within your community, for transparency
ASBO's Meritorious Budget award process to consider within the budget document, even if not to do in full
the presentation is using Poll Everywhere for those in the presentation
how important is a transparent budget to you?

when people review your budget, how clear is it to them?
is the budget solely a district administration tool (for superintendent, finance, but that's it)? Is it only for school committee (if you've been on for some time)? is it something that those who follow town finances (FinCom, selectboard) can follow? is it something that your parent groups can understand? or is it something that anybody new to your community can understand?
as it happens the group is divided pretty equally in thirds from extremes

transparency "is in the eyes of the beholder" with town administrators saying that they don't need all that information

Your budget is a policy statement
"it's the school committee's most important policy statement that they approve every year"
it's an accountability tool: public can hold school committee accountable for, school committee superintendent, superintendent administration
evidenced-based decision making tool: shows that "decisions based on some level of logic and equity"
record of the past: "all the decisions that have been made in the years before us" "capturing the history of your district"
builds confidence in resource allocation within the district and within the community
reductions of future actions, financial planning
signal of district preferences and priorities: "there's no money left: well, it went somewhere!"
provide solid answer to public questions about spending
shows authentic leadership: "[some] don't want to share the full information...that's the power of having the budget information" "I challenge that; being transparent is being a true leader for your community"
decentralizes budget authority: greater information shared by all
"There is strength in numbers...I have found it to be actually valuable to have your parents know your numbers...they can walk the walk, they can talk the talk."

how is your budget linked to your school improvement plan?
how can you do an improvement plan unless you identify the resources that you're going to use?

those who write the budget are "largely number crunchers"
but many who use the budget are not
people who like to see things visually, some like to see lines of numbers reconciling, some want to see words
so: use charts and graphs
use narrative
"numbers without narrative is just modeling and narrative without numbers is story telling"
"budget numbers are bound together by a coherent narrative....and I missed the rest of this part...will update if I can get it...

use infographics: SHOW IT
suggestion from group: use a dollar bill
The below swiped from WPS's FY17 budget book:

a bit of disbelief from the group on seeing WPS's 416 page FY17 budget...

ASBO Meritorious Budget award requirements that could be used: 

  • Executive Summary: a couple of pages that anyone can read
  • Divisional Organization Charts
  • Goals and Objectives: how resources will be aligned with goals district is attempting to achieve
  • Fiscal Policies: school committee approved policies
  • Budget calendar: so everyone knows what happens when
  • All funds budget: every dollar should be approved by school committee, all dollars included
  • What has changed from previous year and what are the key drivers
  • Budget trends and forecasts: three years actual, current, projected, and three additional projected years 
  • Enrollment trends and forecasts: (three years prior, actual, three years projected)
  • Student demographics: some history, current 
  • Tax rate and impact on community: impact on collection within municipality 
  • Explanation of changes that are in the budget
  • Capital budget spending
  • Debt obligation and fund balances (and show it!) 
  • Personnel: five year history and up to the current level
  • Staffing allocation: how are decisions about placement of staff made?
  • Student performance data (though what is included can be chosen)
  • Glossary of terms: "that we all know, that your superintendents know...but that the general public may not know"

  • Spreadsheets and Powerpoints are important but they shouldn't be all that's included
    including this information also can be included as part of the evaluation of the SBO (and would, it is argued, be part of qualifying for exemplary status)

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