A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

Assessment of School-Based Management - October 1996

Redefining School-Based Budgeting for High Performance

School-based management has become an increasingly popular strategy to reform education. Within this current trend to decentralize management to schools, budget authority is usually the most common responsibility delegated to the site followed by personnel and curriculum responsibilities (Clune & White, 1988; David, 1990; Hatry et al., 1993). It is thought that devolution of budgeting to individual schools will encourage innovation and change (Raywid, 1990). States and even local school districts are considering school-based budgeting as a potential tool for achieving financial equity among schools (Bradley, 1994; Odden, 1994). In addition, advocates have argued that school-based budgeting will enhance organizational effectiveness and productivity by placing decisions closest to students (Levin, 1987) and by directing accountability toward individual schools instead of the central office and board of education (Ornstein, 1974).

While the literature is slowly increasing, there is still a great need for more information about how to structure school-based budgeting as part of effective school-based management. Recent research has analyzed district and state policy related to school-based budgeting (Wohlstetter & Buffett, 1992), but there continues to be a deficit of information about how to carry out budgeting at the school site and the support structures needed for implementation. This chapter adds to the knowledge base by exploring effective school-based budgeting practices within effective school-based management contexts.

Early research on school-based management focused on how much power was devolved to schools, but more recent research has examined a broader set of conditions for school-based management, including the professional development activities, information, and rewards needed to create high performing school organizations. In the first section of this chapter, we explore the implications of an expanded notion of school-based management as a context for examining the budgeting process. The second section analyzes exemplary school-based budgeting practices in several school-based managed districts to learn more about how schools effectively redesigned themselves to accommodate their new budgeting responsibilities.

[How Schools Make School-Based Management Work] [Table of Contents] [Part 2: The High Involvement Framework: Strategies for School-Based Budgeting]