Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dealing with Declining Resources

No school is immune from the need to plan for a future impacted by declining, or at the best, stable resources. Schools are caught between expectations for improved student performance and the reality that there are fewer human and financial resources to support the program. Almost universally the issue is one of how to be both efficient and more effective.

There are generally three responses. First, you can identify areas where you might reduce expenses by eliminating programs or reducing budgets. But in many schools these efficiencies have already been achieved. Second, you can consider alternative ways of doing things you're already doing. For example, some rural schools have shifted to a four-day week to reduced costs of transportation, food service, and office support. Some have begun to work together by combining programs, sharing teachers, or sharing central office resources. In Michigan one district contracted with a nearby district for a portion of the superintendent's time. Others consolidated human resources or business services. Third, you can prioritize what you are doing. This is often difficult, even when you use data, because it is often seen as valuing one program more than others. If you prioritize be sure to anchor your decisions in your school's vision and mission. Some schools have learned that reducing every program a little isn't very effective. It may be necessary to focus on fewer things and do them really well. Always be sure someone is advocating for the neediest students, those requiring the most support.

Some schools have begun to work together to share professional development. Others have worked with local business leaders to sponsor professional development. Or you might want to increase efforts to identify volunteers, such as senior citizens, to work with students.

These challenging decisions are almost always better when teachers, families and other stakeholders are included.

These are challenging times for schools and their leaders. I'd enjoy hearing form you about how you and your community are dealing with your declining resources.

No comments:

Post a Comment