The question that every principal wrestles with come budget time, do I invest in staff or training?  What your Assistant Superintendent, Business Manager, HR Director and Title I Office want you to do is fill up on staff. 

It’s the easy solution.  The budget is allocated, class size is reduced, and operational stuff and things get done.  I’m not saying they are wrong. But I’m not saying they are right.

More staff just facilitates the status quo, just a little more efficiently.  But more staff rarely changes anything.  Sub-par instruction for 28 students isn’t made better by providing sub-par instruction to 21 students.  And operational stuff and things being taken care of have next to no impact on the classroom.

What I suggest (and did) is follow the advice of Great Principals.  Go LEAN.  That’s right, don’t add staff.  Instead invest in training.  Train like there is no tomorrow.  Improve the skill set of every adult on the campus.  Make them more effective and more efficient.  That way when the budget is squeezed and everyone else has to cut staff, you have a staff that is better prepared to handle adversity and effectively teach any student in any setting.

Here are two, field tested ways to make this happen.

1. Absorb a position. This is what E. Don Brown would do.  If his staff allocation was 100 teachers he would hire 99. Then with the unused salary, he would have $50,000 to $60,0000 as a training budget.

2. Capture your vacancy.  This is the solution that I used.  Everyone has a vacancy pop up during the school year.  The vacancy is never filled immediately which creates a budget surplus (Central Office knows this and loves this).  But while this surplus is growing, everyone on the campus has to work harder.  What this means is that the campus suffers while the district reaps the reward.  So, I went to my Superintendent (Bob Brezina) with the following proposal, since the staff was having to work harder and was short-handed, let me use the vacancy surplus to bring in on-going training to reward the staff for stepping up. Brezina loved the idea and my staff were among the best trained in the city.

Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn…

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