Allocating Resources & Budgeting

Reflection

Balancing the Budget

  • Explain how and why you made key decisions when balancing the budget?

    • Hypothetical Key Decisions:

Lincoln High School, 2013-2014 Budget

The Good News

  • Salaries will not be cut. -We knew that cutting salaries was not something we were going to do. One of our staff members quit so we were able to take two teachers who were ¾ time and make them full time staff members. This gave us a small decrease in output.
  • We are not losing any staff members due to budget cuts. -We were sure that loosing staff was not something that we wanted to do and we were able to keep everyone on staff.

  • Two colleagues are now with us full time. -As explained above.

  • Team budgets will remain the same. -We wanted to keep the budgets the same. We are assuming this is a project-based school and it is important that teachers have some funds to work with for supplies.

Budget Adjustments

  • Class size in 9th and 10th grades will increase to 26. -This was only a one student increase and it helped our budget quite a bit. Our class size is still pretty low and we tend to have some attrition so our upper classes should still remain smaller than 25.

  • We will be implementing a "Freshmen Foundations Week" during the first week of school instead of Summer Bridge. Each 9th grade team will have an additional $500 for related expenses. -This was an interesting study group discussion. Some of us (specifically those of us at new schools) liked the summer bridge program, whereas some of us thought that the summer bridge program was a waste of money. I personally have seen it work well at HTHNC, but I wonder if it will have the same turnout now that we have a middle school? As a compromise to the summer bridge program, we decided to have a “Freshman Foundations Week.” I believe they do this at International. This would be a week where each team spends time team building and doing summer bridge type activities. I think this is a great idea and depending on how many students we have sign up for summer bridge, we may do this in the future. I wonder if teachers would be concerned about loosing two weeks of class time. This could be a real problem for Exploratory Teachers who only have a limited amount of time with each group.

  • We will have limited scholarship funds for student activities (retreat, etc.). -We will increase fundraising efforts for class trips, and consider ways of reducing expenses for these trips.

  • We have slightly less money for professional development. -We will have to be creative about where and if we do retreats this year.

  • How did conversations from the study group influence your final budgeting decisions? Were there points of disagreement?

    • Study Group: Conversations from the teacher study group were helpful rather than confrontational. I realize that it was easier for us to talk about the issues due to the fact that this was only an exercise not a real budget, but it helped me see how and where there is flexibility in the school budget.

  • What challenges do you foresee with getting the budget back on track when we pull out of the recession and how might you overcome them?

    • Getting Back on Track: I think the most important thing that we can do when we get out of this recession is to compensate our staff. We have been working in a space where we have not received raises, we are working harder because staff has been cut and we are taking on additional responsibilities. Some teachers are feeling under appreciated and a little defeated. It does not feel like we are going to come out of this recession anytime soon. Speaking from experience, this is particularly difficult for young teachers/administrators who are trying to start families, own homes and be overall more stable in life. I think that High Tech High has done a good job of making budgeting decisions transparent. We understand why decisions are being made and teachers appreciated being informed, but it's still difficult.


Teacher Voice

  • When and how will you bring teachers into the decision making process? I think it's fair to bring teachers in to the decision making process only if you plan on making that time worth while. If there are places where the budget can be manipulated, let teachers have a say in what happens with those funds. I think narrowing the information down to the core of what can be changed in important as well. As a teacher, I do not want to sit in a study group meeting and hear about the budget without being able to give input.

  • What will the decision making process look like? If a director brings to the table the areas where there is some flexibility and let's teachers have some say there, I think that can be powerful.

  • What challenges to you foresee with creating a budget study group and how might you overcome them?  It is difficult to think about the whole when talking about budget.  We all work so hard and so it makes sense to want to understand why we do not get compensated accordingly.


Teacher Compensation

  • How do you plan to measure teacher effectiveness? I believe that the most important thing a director can do to measure teacher effectiveness is to be present at school. Ongoing observations, both formal and informal are key. Having ongoing check ins with students, being present at POLs, SLCs, field trips and performances. Always observing relationships and seeing how people interact with each other. Noticing what the student's work, but also asking what went in to it.

  • How will you support teachers and provide feedback for their work? As I stated above, being present for them. Being in their classrooms so that you can offer them authentic feedback. I like the organized teacher feedback meetings that Nikki has. She has them twice, once in the middle of the year and once at the end... she may have one in the beginning as well? At these meetings, we generally just talk about what is going well and what our goals are. This is a place for the director to offer feedback, advice or just share thoughts with staff members.

  • Will teacher effectiveness be connected to compensation? And how do you plan to implement performance-based pay at your school? I think that starting teachers according to relevant education and years teaching is a fair base. I believe that good teachers should have additional opportunities to make more money. Stipends for leadership roles outside of the teaching curriculum such as teaching summer school, testing coordinators, mentors, presenting at institutes, leading workshops, leading staff development days, etc. are all ways that teachers could and should be compensated. Teachers could also be compensated for taking on leadership roles during school. Some of the roles that are a lot of extra work like ASB or yearbook should be places where teachers are compensated monetarily as well. In addition to monetary compensation, teachers who work especially hard should have the opportunity to travel, help hire new staff, give input on partnerships, opportunities to open new schools, etc.

  • What challenges do you foresee in your plans for budgeting and compensating teachers and how might you overcome them? High Tech High used to compensate teachers for many of these things and I think that it gave us the sense that we were appreciated for all of the extra work that we were doing.  It is important to be upfront about the opportunities that are available, but the expectation should be that teacher earn those opportunities.

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Shani Leader,
Apr 26, 2010, 7:23 PM
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Shani Leader,
Apr 27, 2010, 3:24 PM
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Shani Leader,
Apr 27, 2010, 10:01 AM
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