Completing a School System Budget is Hard. Some would even say it's impossible. It's been especially bad within the last 8 years because of the economic downturn. When school board's and superintendents are trying to put a budget together, what's the first thing to get cuts? The Central Office staff. Is this the right way to go? I think that depends on what you are cutting from the central office staff.
My district just went through the budget process, and the chief complaint was the size and increase in central office funding. Many parents and community members would be happy if the central office was cut to the bare bones, but in order to keep the school system running efficiently you would have to cut in the right places. Some places are just to important to cut, even though they are often the first on the budget chopping block
The first thing you have to make sure runs efficiently is human resources, and it can not be a place for cuts. Human resources in any business is one of the most important departments because it puts the right person in the position and works to keep the satisfied with their position through the benefits they receive. Without a good human resource department, the whole organization can be run into the ground. Human resources allows important positions to be filled efficiently, and if it does not it could causes chaos in any organization. Its especially prevalent in schools, because poor human resource departments mean quality teachers are not in the classroom. It's also very important for teacher moral. If human resources screws up a teachers benefits, do you think they will stay?
The second thing you can not cut is the technology department, but it is often the first thing cut. Technology is moving at an amazing rate, and schools need to keep up. Schools need technology leaders to help teachers adapt to this new environment, fix issues, and in general manage the infrastructure that is so important to schools running efficiently. In many ways, the technology support is more important then the academic support, and many teachers would rather have technology pd than other academic pd.
So where can we cut? I know in my own district the first thing I would cut is the amount of upper level leaders within the district. We have both Chief Officers, Executive Directors, and Directors in our District. You can only image how much each of these individuals are paid. Why can't we just have Chief Officers and the Directors under them that run each decision within a department? It also feels like we have a massive professional development department. To me this department needs to be limited. Schools need to use their greatest resource to do most professional development. What is it you ask? There teachers and administrators. You could pay teachers and administrators extra to do pd, which in the end would save you money on benefits and increase moral.
It makes me angry to see schools cut technology positions every year. Hopefully, schools will make realistic good decisions on what they do with their central office staff. If they feel like they need to cut, hopefully they will cut in the right places.