In cities all over the country—from Massachusetts to Missouri, from Florida to Pennsylvania, from Washington state to Maryland—charters and local school districts are fighting over who gets funding (American Prospect, June 2016). Districts say charter schools steal their money, leaving them unable to properly educate students, very often those who are the most expensive to educate, such as children with special needs.
Charter school advocates counter that districts’ financial woes began long before charters came on the scene, and students who seek alternatives shouldn’t have to suffer because school districts and unions are facing a budget and organizational crisis. Money should “follow the child,” school-choice supporters say, meaning per-pupil tax dollars should be directed towards whichever school system a student wishes to attend.
When charter school expansion first started to take off, some states freed up transitional funds to help districts cope with declining enrollments and fiscal fallout as students left for charter schools.
Academics, Marguerite Roza and Jon Fullerton, say that policies designed to help districts cope with the effects of shifting student enrollments “weaken the incentives that should drive change and adaptation” and argue that districts should think more seriously about cheaper alternatives like online schooling, defined-contribution plans, and modified tenure systems. Only by “adopting more nimble expenditure structures,” they have written, can districts feasibly adapt to a changing landscape.
Conventional budgeting and financial management systems are no longer sufficient to deliver the budgetary framework and accounting capabilities needed by K-12 districts. To stay in the game, school districts require a fully integrated solution that links strategic planning, budgeting, and performance reporting in a system that has been designed specifically to meet the unique needs of the K-12 sector.
Through Questica’s budgeting platform, school districts can gain granular insight into their funding by streamlining data from multiple sources and eliminating inefficient spreadsheets. The web-based platform allows districts to track operating and capital project budgets and provides comprehensive tools for calculating expenses associated with staff salaries and benefits.
At Questica, we have been providing budgeting solutions since 1998 and currently manage over $55 billion in annual public sector budgets.
If you agree that the current funding environment requires a competitive budget for your school district, request a demo of Questica’s solutions for K-12 today.