Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Budget Cuts = Creative Solutions

District Superintendents are running a huge business. It is fascinating to watch Fairfax County Superintendent Jack Dale. He is basically running a $2.3 billion company. Most CEO’s with vast business experience don’t have a $2.3B budget and haven't yet had to make drastic cuts in a budget that large. The complexities of such a budget are staggering yet here we have Jack Dale and his staff now trying to cut $100 million from that budget.

They have come up with some pretty innovative ways to make those cuts. In an affluent county like Fairfax they are asking parents to pony up in the way of fees. They want parents to pay for AP tests, PSAT and the like. They are also thinking of charging $50 to participate in high school sports. They are going to raise class size by a half of a student - which I find amusing unless of course it was my child who is the one to be cut in half.

It isn’t going to get better. They have an increase of students yet property values are dropping meaning their tax/revenue base is dropping. The county told them to keep costs flat next year and their current budget represents a 3% increase – so there is still a lot of negotiating to do and no one wants to talk of cutting education in a big election year.

District management teams are really going to be challenged this year with dwindling budgets. Innovative ways to meet those challenges should be shared so that we can meet this challenge and still improve education.

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