Smarter School Spending

Smarter School Spending

Creating a learning environment where students and teachers thrive takes strong leadership and determination, as well as the ability to make smart use of resources. We know that school districts across the country are now asked to do more with less. That’s why we worked with our partners to develop Smarter School Spending, a free online resource to help districts narrow down their priorities and find resources to pay for their initiatives.

The work of four initial districts (Fayette County Public Schools, KY; Knox County Schools, TN; Lake County Schools, FL; and Rochester City School District, NY) provided the foundational knowledge for Smarter School Spending. As a result of the initial research and work, we have developed tools, resources, and a practical step-by-step process that helps districts make smarter budget decisions.

Strategic Finance Plan
Developed by districts, for districts, the following is a multi-step process to develop and implement a strategic finance plan over 9–18 months. Districts can follow the steps on their own or with support from a technical assistance provider. Some districts choose to focus on just one specific step and set of resources most relevant to them.

Each step provides districts with a variety of resources from meeting materials to analytic tools that will guide them through each activity. Below, you will also find a small selection of the resources for each step:


What can districts expect to achieve?
Districts that complete the full Smarter School Spending process will:

  • Identify two to three research-based instructional priorities for investment.
  • Analyze three to seven realignment opportunities to identify areas of cost savings.
  • Develop a multi-year strategic finance plan and annual strategic budgets that implement these priorities in a financially sustainable way.
  • Engage and communicate with key groups in the community and school system early and often during the process to garner broad understanding and support for key decisions.
  • Foster a districtwide culture that emphasizes the strategic use of resources.

For more information on Smarter School Spending, check out our Smarter School Spending Overview or visit