Welcome to the second blog post in the Region 5 Comprehensive Center’s Strategic Budgeting series. As outlined in our first post, we are walking through the five elements of Strategic Budgeting, to help provide additional tools to local education officials who want to think about their budgets with a wider lens. While this topic is often discussed in the business community, we are focusing on local education agencies. Many of the topics translate over, but with some modification.
Review of the Five Elements of Strategic Budgeting
Today’s post is the first of two about Identifying Vision and Goals. There are many books and reports on this topic, but we hope to distill some of the main points in this and the next blog post, and point you to some additional resources you could use for further study.
How Were Your District’s Current Vision and Goals Identified?
Almost every school district has a vision statement, often followed by a series of goals. You probably even post it very prominently on your website. But, do those vision and goal statements actually reflect current achievement data or other circumstances of your district, or the decisions you make in your budget? Did you get a new superintendent or school board president who required you to update your vision and goals, and you frankly haven’t thought about them since? Or, is it something else? A recent examination of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) concluded that when they implemented a recent technology initiative, its success was tied to how closely it aligned with a clear vision for learning.
Maybe This Is the Time to Rethink Your Vision and Goals
Because of COVID-19, you have probably worked through many budgeting challenges. The pandemic is also an unprecedented opportunity—and need—to revisit your district’s vision and goals. COVID-19 may have made obvious some long-term inequities in your district, and it probably required you to spend money very differently than planned. In addition, the shutdown probably negatively affected funding from the state. In contrast, federal funds from sources like the American Rescue Plan (ARP) have provided short-term infusions to deal with some of these issues.
Over the next few fiscal years, districts will need to balance competing desires, such as re-establishing some of the programs and personnel cut during the pandemic, integrating continued remote learning in some form, and providing services to address those students who fell behind.
All of these factors can lay the groundwork for a district to re-evaluate its vision and goals, to (1) determine if they still apply after COVID-19, and if not, to (2) engage the school community to develop a more realistic vision and goals.
Ideally, districts revisit their vision and goals every 3-5 years, or when major changes are set upon the district. A worldwide pandemic might be just the type of change that spurs your district to realign its vision and goals with where you are now and where you want to be in the future.
But Don’t Revise Them in a Vacuum
As you can see from the graphic at the beginning of this post, Identifying Vision and Goals interlocks with Assessing Resources and Using Data. None of those can happen without the other two. In addition, they together inform how you Communicate With the District (i.e., parents, teachers, staff, students, community leaders, and other stakeholders). And, all four of those activities occur within a framework of Continuous Improvement. So even though these blog posts are presented in a series, they don’t necessarily describe activities that need to take place in that order. Think of them all as puzzle pieces that interlock and affect one another.
New posts will appear on the CCNetwork on Monday mornings, so feel free to bookmark that page. This is the second post in the series. The first was an introduction to the series and to the five elements, and can be found in the Blog & News section. The second half of this discussion about vision and goals, and can be found here.
KEEPING UP WITH OUR POSTS
If you would like to be notified when new posts in this series are published, please email BradKeller@westat.com and ask to be put on the notification list.
To extend this conversation further, follow and use the hashtag #R5OfficeHours on Twitter.
We plan on monthly “office hours” where you can join live with the authors (virtually), to ask questions, provide feedback, and discuss the topics explored in this series. Office hours are always the last Tuesday of the month, at 1 pm Eastern Time. You can click here to register and add the event to your calendar. This month’s office hour is Tuesday, September 28 from 1-2 pm Eastern Time/Noon Central Time.
This blog post is in the public domain. While permission to reprint is not necessary, this publication should be cited. The blog post is prepared by the Region 5 Comprehensive Center under Award #S283B190030 for the Office of Program and Grantee Support Services (PGSS) within the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) of the U.S. Department of Education, and is administered by Westat. The content of the blog post does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the PGSS or OESE or the U.S. Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.