Better Budgets Better Schools Policy Solution Case Studies

Better Budgets Better Schools Policy Solution Case Studies

The Better Budgets Better Schools coalition researched policies and outcomes nationwide when developing their own policy solutions for the city’s school district. We’ve profiled two case studies below.

Better Budgets Better Schools Policy Solution: Release paper and electronic reports and dashboards that illustrate district-wide and school-specific budget sources, allocations, goals, and strategic priorities

Case Study: Minneapolis Public Schools

The Minneapolis Public School system takes pride in providing their community members with extensive budget information through an online, real-time, and interactive dashboard that shows the district spendings along with a number of other budget resources. The District recognizes that accountability starts at the district level and there needs to be transparency in the budget and budget-making process. The Minneapolis Public Schools states on their website that through the added accountability provided by the dashboard and other resources they are able to make smarter investments and target resources at addressing serious problems in the district like the achievement gap.

The dashboard breaks down revenues, department spending, and the type of expense (ie. salary, supplies, etc.).  The website also allows users to filter the budget by a school to see how much money is spent in a single building. In addition to the dashboard, the Minneapolis Public Schools’ websites provide information about and explanations of various factors that are impacting the budget, such as decreased student enrollment and increased revenues due to a  new tax. Additionally, the site includes much information about budget decisions are made while explaining every step in the process and ways community members can get involved.

Better Budgets Better Schools Policy Solution:

  • Distribute paper and electronic communications to all schools staff, faculty, and families about all budget meetings and decisions.

  • District to host four sessions a year to gather public input into key decisions on the upcoming school year's budget.

Case Study: California’s Funding Reform

California’s state funding reform requires comprehensive community input to drive budgeting decisions. The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) was adopted by the state of California in 2013 and aims to reallocate billions of dollars to high-need districts with a goal to align budget priorities with local needs and priorities by making budget decisions in consultation with parents, students, and staff members at the schools. The LCFF added accountability, an equity-focused funding formula, and new measures of student and school success to the states budgetary process.

The LCFF specifically include provisions that funding must be based on student needs. The LCFF include extra grant dollars to schools serving English Language Learners, students in the foster care system, and low-income students. Additionally, the LCFF, removed spending restrictions and allowed the local community more agency over the budget. The law requires that school districts engage parents, students, and a variety of other community stakeholders in the development and implementation of the district’s budget.

The effects of the LCFF have been seen throughout the state. In 2007, California 8th grade students were ranked 49th in the country for reading and science and 45th  for math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Just over a decade later, California’s 8th graders were just 2 points below the national average for reading and cut the distance to the national average for mathematics performance in half resulting in the some of the largest increase in academic performance in the country all while community members have felt involved and values in the process.