Gresham-Barlow School District developed a budget prioritization activity to help provide meaningful feedback to district staff regarding budget allocations. They created an activity that engages their community and provides real data to help them make decisions that work.
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Two important elements:
When defining the budget challenge:
Setting budget priorities: Identify Clear Goals
Develop a list of reduction options
Before the community and staff meetings, the leadership team should develop a “long list” of possible budget reductions. The list should address the areas people like to bring up in budget meetings, even if they may not make the final list. Your “long list” will provide documentation of your process and provide your administrators the information to explain why items are or are not on the final list.
Creating your long list:
Sample long list (75k )
Creating your final list:
Using the item evaluations, the leadership team reduces the “long list” to a smaller number of items. Some items may have several options. For example, you might include an option to eliminate high school sports and an option to reduce the number of sports.
Setting budget priorities: The Long List
Once your target and your options are determined, it’s time to plan your meetings. You’ll want to schedule meetings for 1.5 hours with enough space to host 100 people at round tables.
Setting budget priorities: Communications
At the meeting, you need to explain the following to participants:
Setting budget priorities: Activity Instructions
Setting budget priorities: Activity
Budget additions - People won’t add anything to a budget when cuts are being considered so don’t include additions as activity options.
Setting budget priorities: Lessons learned
Samples from other districts
Beaverton adapted Gresham's exercise. See the results presented to their Board.