What follows is a draft Letter to the Editor of my local newspaper, I’m curious what you think of my suggestion before I submmit it for publication on Monday, Dec. 13th. Thanks in advance for any feedback you care to share with me…
To the Editor
As we prepare to embark on the process of crafting next year’s budget for our local school district, I want to propose that as the district assembles their budget for the coming school year that they attempt to answer four questions for each expenditure in the budget above a certain threshold they choose – those questions are:
- What is the benefit of the expenditure to the children in the district? It sounds obvious, but I think it is important to keep in mind that the purpose of our school system is to educate the children in the district.
- What will this expenditure cost this budget year? This is easy to answer, but should be clearly stated as one number, inclusive of all costs (materials, labor, etc.).
- What is the on-going annual expense to maintain this expenditure? We frequently get too wrapped up in the current-year budget, and the answer to this question will help put the expense in context.
- How will we know if the expenditure was successful? This is the big one – far too often well-intended initiatives are proposed and implemented, and then never revisited to measure success. The answer to this question will be most useful when we find ourselves struggling to craft next year’s budget.
I propose that the answers to the above questions be collected and shared with the public as the budget is assembled this year to inform the debate, and that it be made available to be reviewed next year. Imagine how easy it would be to decide which programs to fund or cancel if we had such a document from last year… Let’s do ourselves a favor and create such a document this year, to make next year’s budget process that much easier.
Hopewell Township, NJ