The implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula presents local education leaders with the power and flexibility to use resources in new and different ways. Taking full advantage of this opportunity requires leaders to adopt budgeting practices that highlight the tradeoffs among system goals and facilitate the reallocation of scarce resources to support their top priorities. In this brief Mark Murphy reviews the experiences of three California school districts with budget tools that increase their ability to meet their students’ needs. Murphy discusses key lessons from these districts, which yield three recommendations:
- Integrate district budgeting with strategic planning.
- Focus on critical questions prior to investment decisions.
- Develop internal structures that help sustain the strategic budgeting approach.
Adopting more strategic budgeting practices is one key step toward district policies that respond to community preferences and improve the performance of local schools and students.