Tough times in education
Although we are only a little more than four months into fiscal year 2009, 18 states already have cut budgets by $5.5 billion. Most states are now re-estimating their budgets, but given the recent jump in unemployment and the substantial erosion in both income and sales tax revenues, the expectation is that the shortfalls for both fiscal year 2009 and 2010 will grow dramatically over the next several months.
Schools and districts are facing unprecedented challenges: reduced availability of resources on the one hand, increasing performance requirements on the other. And early indicators on both fronts indicate that nothing’s going to change in the near future.
In the face of reduced revenues, no one can blame districts for cutting spending, as painful as it may be. However, there is an argument to be made for an increased investment in partnership efforts, and it’s an argument that partnership leaders inside and outside the schools need to be making to district and community leaders.
When facing tough economic times, businesses do more than cut costs: they look for additional sources of revenue. Schools and districts need to do the same, looking beyond their primary source of revenue to find other sources of support, which could include not only direct financial support from the community but also in-kind contributions of time, talent, and goods and services.
And there’s a dual benefit: the outside expertise and support attracted through partnerships can be targeted in ways that help schools and districts meet the performance challenges they face. It’s a win-win – but it’s one that has to gain buy-in at the top levels in order to succeed. My holiday wish to all of you is that you get an hour of uninterrupted time with your superintendent to make your case. :-)