Many principals find the budgeting process to be confusing and overwhelming.  And it can be so if one is completely focused on the little things.

But if one is focused on the big things, budgeting becomes a manageable and useful tool.  So here are the big things to wrap your mind around.

1. Effective budgeting is not about incrementally starving programs. For example: cut Program A by 10%; cut Program B by 20%; cut Program C by 15%. 

Effective budgeting is about fully funding the programs that are critical to the organization accomplishing its mission, and not funding the programs that are not critical to the organization accomplishing its mission.  Which would look like this:  Program A and Program C are critical to the success of the organization, they receive full funding. Program B is not critical to the success of the organization, it gets no funding and is discontinued. 

Some may argue that this way of thinking is inappropriate in a school setting.  Those people would be wrong.  Then there are those would argue that this way of thinking is hard in a school setting. Those people would be right. But if leadership were easy, anyone could do it, and that is not the case.

2. Money represents time, tools, training and staff. The equation looks like this: $ = Time, Tools, Training, Staff

The job of the leader (and budgeter) is to find the optimal mix of time, tools, training and staff that maximizes student results for a given budget amount.

What I have found is that the campus that goes lean in staffing, invests heavily in training and modestly in tools is the most nimble in the short run and remains competitive in the long run.

The campus that is staff heavy and tool heavy (which is easier to get approved by central office) ends up skimping on training which makes for a lumbering school in the short-run that becomes decreasingly competitive in the long-run. 

So to tie this up, when working on your budget, don’t get enamored with head count and programs. Instead…

A. Have fewer people and train them better, continuously.

B. Quit doing the things that don’t make your campus better. Just do the things that do make your campus better.

Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

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