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ERIC Number: ED454624
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2000-Mar
Pages: 35
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
A Case Study of District Decentralization and Site-Based Budgeting: Cordell Place School District.
Fermanich, Mark; Odden, Allan; Archibald, Sarah
A previously high-ranking suburban school district with declining student achievement changed to site-based budgeting. The account of the change may also be a cautionary tale about change taken too rapidly. Although a poor economy, the annexation of two Department of Defense schools, and organizational stagnation helped to create lower student achievement, most of the staff attributed this problem to changes in student demographics, rather than to failures of the education program. One undeniable problem was a three million dollar deficit. A new superintendent, with experience in large-scale change, decided to use site-based budgeting to let each school decide how to spend its resources, using data-driven decisions. Each school was now motivated to use its resources as efficiently as possible in its own best interests. He also required the implementation of a research-based whole-school design. The site-based budgeting used a student-based formula that directed more than 53 percent of operating revenues directly to the schools, offering a stable, equitable, and understandable procedure. Other efforts of the central-office staff also saved significant revenue. The details of creating the new budget and the student-based formula are explained thoroughly. The results of the changes can be examined over 3 years. Although not quantified, student achievement results are described as dramatically improved. However, the changes created, to some degree, a climate of mistrust. The new program was initiated in the first year with eight pilot schools, despite the large deficit and the fact that the fiscal year based on the old system was already in effect. As a consequence of accompanying budget cuts, some teachers and central-office staff were dismissed or offered less desirable positions. New problems appeared with the replacement of the computer system. Relations between the district and the union became strained, partly due to having to deal with 26 site councils. The school board itself gained two union-supported candidates against the reforms. Most discouragingly, the superintendent left for a job with the federal government. A slower pace might have mitigated opposition and solidified support for the reforms. (RKJ)
Wisconsin Center for Education Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1025 W. Johnson St., Room 653, Madison, WI 53706-1796. Tel: 608-263-4260; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Inst. on Educational Governance, Finance, Policymaking, and Management (ED/OERI), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Wisconsin Center for Education Research, Madison.; Consortium for Policy Research in Education.