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Journal for Effective Schools

Volume 11, Number 1

School District Budget Development: A Shift to Link Purse to Performance by Scott Burchbuckler, Ph.D. Superintendent Essex County Public Schools Tappahannock, Virginia Abstract Where education dollars are spent matters because it defines what programs and services are offered. These decisions are articulated in a budget. Budgeting decisions take on added significance in this era of increased high-stakes public accountability for all students’ achievement. Most notably, this movement is associated with 2002 Elementary and Secondary Education Act’s reauthorization, or No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), used in this research as a proxy for the highstakes testing. Public accountability will certainly continue even after any revisions to NCLB take place. In this era, it will be necessary to ensure greater links between funding (inputs) and proven instructional programs which result in increased student performance (outputs). Indeed, without changing the way funds are allocated, school divisions can expect similar results as resources dictate what can and cannot be done. Budgeting merges resources to achieve desired results. The budget and the process of creating it are arguably among school districts’ most important tools in ensuring that their students achieve at high academic levels. A budget is more than a financial picture; it embodies the school district’s organizational and educational plan. It represents the tangible articulation of how school districts aim to fulfill their mission and achieve their Effective Schools correlate goals by delineating proposals for specific programs, staffing, and activities. A well-planned budget signals to the public that the schools are worthy of significant investment. The purpose of this study is to examine school district budgeting processes in light of NCLB. More specifically, this study examines the current state of budget practices at the school district level and explores if these processes have become more performance-based since the inception of NCLB. In addition, the study assesses how performance-based budgeting correlates with differences in student achievement. The study addressed the following research questions: 1. What budget decision-making criteria do the school districts use? Which criteria are the most important? 67

Journal for Effective Schools - Spring 2013  

Vol. 11, #1