Feeling the Pinch: Navigating Financial Pressures in Pursuit of Educational Quality and Equity

Engaging Community Perspectives

CASBO. (n.d.). Best practices for engaging stakeholders in the budget. Sacramento, CA: CASBO. Available at https://www.casbo.org/sites/default/files/userfiles/Budget-Engagement-Flyer-English.pdf

This pamphlet provides tips for district leaders on how to share budget information with stakeholders to elicit meaningful community involvement. Specifically, it recommends first identifying the information the public needs. This information may include an overall picture of the district’s financials, any major initiatives and how much they will cost, a realistic break-down of “needs versus wants,” and a rationale of how resource allocation decisions will serve student learning. The guidelines next recommend a set of effective communication strategies. Among these, information should connect decisions to activities at local sites, be specific and relevant to community members’ students and schools, be concise, jargon-free, and easy to understand. Visual tools are helpful in this effort. The piece closes with the suggestion that leaders communicate widely and often.

Clark, B. (n.d.) Engage your stakeholders when important budget decisions must be made [Web log]. National School Public Relations Association. Available at https://www.nspra.org/e_network/2012-11_goldstandard

This article shares recommendations for involving community stakeholders in school budget decision making. First, the author states that school leaders ought to consider the families and students they serve as experts, as they are the population that experiences the effects of budgetary decisions. Second, stakeholders should especially get involved when budget cuts are necessary. Even though making decisions will likely be difficult, an involved and well-informed constituency can translate to a smooth approval process despite disagreements. In other words, involving the community effectively often means a great deal of work in the beginning stages but an easier lift at the end. Last, before any meaningful engagement processes begin, it is important that the school board supports involving the community and approving a budget that reflects their priorities. The article ends with links to school districts that have moved toward more participatory budgeting.

Partners for Each and Every Child. (n.d.). Process and protest California: How are districts engaging stakeholders in LCAP development? (pp. 2-3, 10-11, 18-19, 22-52). Berkeley, CA: Author. Available at https://partnersforeachandeverychild.org/wp-content/uploads/P4_ProcessandProtest_CA.pdf

This report summarizes five best practices for engaging communities in districts’ Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAP), and shares case studies of districts that exemplify each practice. The first promising practice is to ensure engagement is representative of the community, especially of groups that have historically been left out of decision-making roles. The second is increasing transparency in how decisions are made and how stakeholders access district information. The third is committing to practices that are sustainable and on-going. The fourth practice is fostering collaboration with outside partners that bring in new perspectives and resources. Last, the authors identify the importance of alignment, meaning that a district’s priorities remain the same when they are communicated across different platforms beyond the LCAP. For each practice, the authors highlight work in specific California school districts to illustrate various strategies of community engagement.