ERIC Number: ED383048
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1995-Feb
Budgetary Decision-Making: Is It Rational, Incremental or Garbage Can?
Sielke, Catherine C.
Throughout its history, the property tax has remained a reliable source of revenue for operating schools and providing other local government services. However, differences in property wealth of school districts have created disparities in dollars available to fund educational programs. This paper presents findings of a study that examined the differences in budgetary decision making in school districts of varying wealth and varying certainty of wealth. Three theories of decision making were used to set criteria for evaluating budget decisions--rational, incremental, and "garbage can." A 2 X 2 matrix that related wealth to certainty of that wealth was developed. Four Michigan school districts were selected, based on Michigan Department of Education data, each of which represented one of the cells in the matrix. The districts included: (1) a wealthy district with certainty of wealth; (2) a wealthy district with uncertainty of wealth; (3) a less wealthy district with certainty of wealth; and (4) a less wealthy district with uncertainty of wealth. Findings indicate that certainty of wealth had more impact on school-district budgetary decision making than the amount of wealth. In wealth-certain districts, decision makers used rational processes, linking organizational goals to decision making. The decision-making process in these districts was characterized by shared goals, open and inclusive process, clear lines of authority and expectations, and high levels of trust and satisfaction. Districts with uncertain wealth utilized garbage-can decision making. An implication is that policymakers must also consider the issue of revenue certainty. They should make funding and resource-allocation decisions well in advance of the new fiscal year. Two figures are included. (LMI)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of School Administrators (New Orleans, LA, February 10-13, 1995).