Thursday, January 4, 2007

Guaranteed Funding Increases Won't Solve the Problem

Schools are "non-profit" institutions and should devote every dollar they can to student achievement.

But, they should not spend MORE than they get.

This should all be controllable through prudent budgeting, but in practice it's not.

Managing a school budget is much easier than managing a business budget, but you won't hear that from any educators. To begin with, your revenue is very predictable, and can be estimated with 98% or so. A full 85% -- or more -- of expenses are comprised of salaries and benefits, which can be predicted.

The rest of the items, such as maintanance, supplies, etc, can be budgeted.

There are some things which may be tough to predict, such as energy costs, but managers need to do their best and come up with contigency plans.

The problem is that schools try to do things backwards. Instead of looking at what they are likely to receive, and then working backwards from that, they instead calculate increases in their expenses and determine how much they need.

If they don't have enough, then they complain there is a funding problem, and look to start cutting student programs, or increasing class size.

The flaw in this process is that the calculcated increases are figured using variables that the school can control!

Managing benefits is a prime example, as I expand on here:

Detroit News: Prop 5 doesn't remedy school costs (09/27/06)

==> Mike.

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