Research and Evaluation

Findings from the Student Based Budgeting Principal and Instructional Director Surveys  

 Cecily Darden Adams and Akilah D. Swinton, Ph.D.  


PGCPS funds schools through a student based budgeting (SBB) approach.  The present study surveyed principals as well as instructional directors (IDs) to collect data on their experiences with SBB, perceptions of the impact of SBB, suggestions for changes to the process, and professional development experiences and needs.  The survey sample consisted of 171 and 11 IDs.  We conducted a descriptive analysis of selected survey items.  Principals and IDs used a variety of resources to inform their budget planning, review and approval process.  For example, involvement of an expanded stakeholder group occurs in some schools, but not in many others.  Principals and IDs most frequently reported using the school’s current year’s budget, current spending reports for the budget, and standardized test scores as resources when developing and reviewing budgets; however, no single data source was used by all principals or IDs.  Also, principals may not have taken full advantage of the flexibility afforded them under SBB based on the limited changes that principals made to the master schedule and staffing, but open-ended responses cited financial limitations or difficult staffing tradeoffs.  While principals generally reported that SBB has resulted in flexibility in varying the staffing configuration, most also viewed the impact on removing less productive staff and resources for hiring needed staff less positively.  Most principals did not report positive perceptions of the impact SBB has on the flexibility to create new programs.  However, principals viewed the impact of SBB on their flexibility to implement school vision and align funding to student need positively.   In regard to changes to the budget planning process, principals preferred a timeline that allows for two rounds of budgeting, suggesting an overwhelming preference for additional time for budget development.  Most principals agreed that the professional development activities and support offered to them were effective, with the support of their IDs during the SBB budget planning process viewed as particularly valuable.  Fortunately, IDs reported feeling prepared to support principals.  Finally, principals appear to want more resources, more relief from other non-instructional tasks to focus on their school’s vision, as well as more autonomy to implement that vision.

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    In SY2012, 21 percent of middle grades students were enrolled in Algebra I.



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