Theory


Ten Key Concepts of Cycle-based Budgeting — Part I

Cycle-based Budgeting (CBB) is built on ten key concepts, which you will see throughout this web site and in the toolkit. You can use these ten terms to help explain to your colleagues what CBB is about, why it can be helpful, and how to do it.  Due to its length, this post is divided into two parts. In this part, the following five key concepts are presented: Budget as InvestmentInvestment ItemInvestment Item OwnerInvestment CycleExpected Return BUDGET AS INVESTMENT Differentiating certain budget items as investments sets the conceptual foundation for approaching those financial resources differently.  A school district’s budget is generally […]


Empower Leaders to Make Strong Budget Decisions by Improving System Deficiencies

This article appears in the January 2018 issue of School Business Affairs, published by the Association of School Business Officials International. Please note that the article was originally written in September of 2017. Click on this link to download the published version.    As stewards of the taxpayer money, district leaders often take most, if not all, of the blame for not using those tax dollars effectively and efficiently to improve student outcomes. What the public does not always recognize and appreciate, however, is how difficult it is for district leaders to make informed budget decisions and how much they […]


A Decision Tool and Two Decision Rules

Acknowledgement: the author thanks Dr. Buchanan for his critiques that helped improve this post.   The CBB Decision Tool has been uploaded to the Toolkit. This tool is intended for two purposes: ⚑ Provide two simple but powerful data points for making program funding decisions ▸ Cost per pupil ▸ Total number of programs a cost center will be implementing concurrently ⚑ Play what-if scenarios to see the resulting implications for budget and program implementation CONTEXT Ideal School District adopted CBB in 15-16 school year. After two years of implementation, 9 CBB-accounted programs totaling $21.98 million will reach the end […]


Setting Funding Priorities: What Does It Mean and How to Get It Done

As the year of 2017 is winding down, many districts will soon be or have been engaged in budget discussions for the 18-19 school year. One phrase that people will hear and probably use a lot is “funding priorities”. In this article, I discuss several confusions around funding priorities and lay out a path to successfully setting funding priorities that lead to strong budget decisions. FUNDING PRIORITIES What they are At the core of funding priorities are areas on which investment should be focused, such as equity, arts and music, culture and climate, and so on. This core should to […]


Cycle-based Budgeting – A Primer 1

How much money has been spent on literacy, student behaviors, etc. respectively by the district over the past five years and what is the return on each of those investments? How do we help leaders take actions so that money will no longer be wasted on ineffective programs year after year, but reinvested to meet the district’s needs instead? An district’s budget should mirror its strategic vision and goals by funding programs that most support these priorities and meet the greatest needs. Accordingly, an effective budgeting process should be engaged with both allocation of new spending and reallocation of existing spending to meet those goals. Generally, […]