How to survive the school budget crisis

School budget cuts are happening across the nation, as this demonstration in New Jersey makes clear. (AP)
School budget cuts are happening across the nation, as this demonstration in New Jersey makes clear. (AP)

Times are tough, and that’s especially true for education. A survey this past spring by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) found that the school budget climate doesn’t reflect the recovery beginning to take hold in other sectors of the economy. In fact, school budget cuts will be noticeably more significant for 2010-11 than they were in the previous two years, the survey suggests.

To help school leaders in this time of need, we’ve put together a special section at eSchool News Online, called “Surviving the School Budget Crisis.” This brand-new resource features a collection of the best articles we’ve published recently that can help you save money—or spend it wisely.

For instance, schools still had at least $15 billion in formula-based stimulus money remaining to be spent as of press time—and spending this money wisely could pay dividends down the road. In our special resource center, you’ll find five key ways to make smart education technology investments that will have a lasting impact for your schools.

You’ll also learn how more schools and colleges are turning to unified communications as a way to streamline communication and save much-needed cash in these volatile times. And you’ll discover several other strategies for saving school budgets during a recession—such as buying from large group contracts, aligning budgets with school improvement plans, starting an educational foundation, and mastering the art of passing school bond issues.

Successful bond campaigns begin with a vision, said Carleton R. Holt, an associate professor of educational leadership at the University of Arkansas, during a recent AASA conference. And the local school board’s decision to issue a bond must be unanimous; if even one board member opposes the motion, he said, that could sow the seeds of doubt among stakeholders.

Recruiting an active citizens group to support the bond measure also is a key to success. “Play it like the Amway model,” Holt said, meaning superintendents should let members of the community sell others on the idea.

For more advice from Holt, as well as other strategies and solutions for surviving the school budget crisis, click here.

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eSchool News Staff

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