Budgeting as a School Leader

Part 1: Intro & Objectives

The ways that a leader handles a school budget should reflect the priorities that leader has for their school. As budgets have seemed to tighten, it is even more important that school leaders are very savvy with the budgets they do have.

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  1. Understand the basics of the budgeting process
  1. Identify ways to prioritize your budget
  1. Ask important questions that will help you understand your specific budget circumstances

Part 2: Demonstration Videos

Before watching this video, consider the budget situation at your current school.

  • How are decisions related to your school budget made?
  • What recommendations does the mentor in the video give to the school leader?

Now that you have watched the video, you probably have some feelings and opinions about the school leaders behavior. Below are some questions and statements to consider and discuss and even write down before talking to a colleague about them:

  1. What are some important questions to ask prior to creating your budget?
  1. How can you prioritize your budget?
  1. What resources are available to a school leader related to budget?
  1. Who can you contact for support related to budget issues?
  1. How transparent was your previous school leader with budget issues?

This video records a conversation between a mentor and school leader. The mentor in the video strongly encourages the principal to think about the major goals of his and then make budget priorities based on those goals.

Part 3: Resources & Activities


Due to copyright law, several readings cannot be hosted on this site. However, we encourage you to ask for assistance locating materials from your library media specialist. Many library services are freely available to educators.

Smart school budgeting: Resources for districts

This document provides a very general overview of school budgets. Strategies for analyzing current spending and saving costs are provided.

Rennie Center for Education Reseach & Policy (n.d.). Smart school budgeting: Resources for districts. Retrieved from http://www.renniecenter.org/

View Article

New job inherited budget – Now what?

This article from the NASSP discusses budget issues for new principals to consider. The article provides key questions that new leaders should ask in relation to the school budget.

Jinks, M. & Blankenship, B. (2010). New job inherited budget – Now what? Principal Leadership, 6. Retrieved from http://www.nassp.org/

View Article

Part 4: Review & Reflect

Budgeting is very contextual and looks quite different from school to school. With that in mind, address the following questions and issues below. If you have difficulty, go back and review the lesson.

  1. How does your current school prioritize the budget?
  1. What would you like to differently?

Create a process for developing a budget for your school. What questions do you need to know the answer to as a new school leader? Your questions may not align completely with those from the NASSP article.

Back to: Preparing New School Leadership > School Operations