Skip to main content

School-Level Budgeting

Los Angeles Unified School District. (2012). Process for prioritizing investments. Los Angeles, CA: Author. 

This report shares results from an annual stakeholder survey titled “Pathways Forward: Leadership and Priorities of LAUSD.” Over 100 local community leaders from diverse constituencies in Los Angeles participated in this survey. Beyond providing input on district leadership and direction, the data reflect the high priority that community respondents place on education.  Additional key findings in this report suggest that surveyed community stakeholders value solutions such as marshaling federal, state, and local dollars and utilizing the ingenuity of diverse stakeholders to work in partnership for active education pursuits.  Overall, respondents indicated that appropriate resource allocation to promote sound investment is critical and that district priorities were heading in the right direction. 

Calvo, N. & Miles, K. H. (2010, Fall). Beyond funding formulas: District transformation through weighted student funding and strategic decentralization. Voices in Urban Education, 29, 40-48. Available at

This article advocates for using weighted student funding (WSF) as an integral component of “strategic decentralization” that can better equip school leaders to address the challenges and opportunities facing their students and school context. The authors describe WSF as an approach that can help create transparency, flexibility, and equity provided that three elements of a complete system are in place. First, site leaders need an appropriate level of flexibility to make resource allocation and programmatic decisions to meet the needs of their students. Second, districts must ensure that principals develop the capacity to manage new levels of responsibility and autonomy. Finally, an effective system requires accountability for both fiscal and academic outcomes, with tools, data, and responsive interventions in place to address the needs of principals at the site level.

Chambers, J., Shambaugh, L., Levin, J., Muraki, M., & Poland, L. (2008). A tale of two districts: A comparative study of student-based funding and school-based decision making in San Francisco and Oakland Unified School Districts. Palo Alto, CA: American Institutes for Research. (Executive summary). Available at

This executive summary highlights key findings from a study of student-based funding (SBF) policies in San Francisco and Oakland Unified School Districts that were implemented to enhance school autonomy and improve equity in resource allocation. The study used the two districts’ experiences to identify key district decisions within nine key SBF design considerations—including the need to address capacity within school sites and to determine the degree of parent and community involvement in resource allocation plans. Additionally, an analysis of resource allocation patterns examined the relationship between per pupil spending and student need and school size over time to explore changes over the life of SBF implementation. Finally, the study identified key lessons learned from the districts’ experiences, including the need for ongoing reflection and refinement in SBF policies and a culture in schools and central offices that transitions from a compliance mentality to one that fosters innovation.