Most decisions about how dollars are spent in public schools are not made by state legislatures or school boards, but by middle-level managers who decide how to dole out money or staff time within districts, according to a report from the School Finance Redesign Project at the University of Washington’s Center on Reinventing Public Education.
The study by Marguerite Roza, a senior scholar for the center, looked at two urban school districts and examined the “micro-decisions” that can affect a district’s reform strategies.
For example, one district allowed four psychologists to decide how to spread their time among 10 schools, which raised questions about whether they may be fulfilling a district goal of helping students most in need. In another case, an athletic director persuaded the school board to increase his budget, but then decided on his own which programs should receive the additional funds.
The study urges districts to more closely examine how they allocate money, and who makes those decisions down to the “micro” level.
A version of this article appeared in the June 11, 2008 edition of Education Week