Budgeting and Forecasting

Alliance for Excellence in School Budgeting

2020 Virtual Fall Meeting - Event Overview

GFOA's Alliance for Excellence in School Budgeting will host its sixth annual meeting virtually on November 5, 6, 10, and 13. The Alliance offers an opportunity for districts to collaboratively learn and discuss how planning and budgeting processes can be improved to best leverage and allocate scarce resources towards student achievement. The meeting also provides districts the chance to learn and share with other districts and an opportunity to have more in depth conversations on strategic decisions related to their district. To date, the Alliance has included over 100 districts across 30 states, including districts both small and large and of all levels of academic performance. Attendees have found the meeting to be of even greater benefit when a lead finance and academic staff member attend together.

While virtual this year, the meeting will continue to encourage networking and discussion between attendees with GFOA facilitating introductions between districts. Additionally, presentations will focus on impacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic on both finances and provision of instruction – while also including discussions on equity throughout as this continues to be a topic of great importance in school districts and even more so with the increased attention nationally on systemic racism.


The schedule for the 2020 Alliance Fall Meeting will be spread over 3 days.

  • November 6, 2020 (11:00 to 3:00 EST)
  • November 10, 2020 (11:00 to 3:00 EST)
  • November 13, 2020 (11:00 to 3:00 EST)

November 5, 2020 (11:00 to 1:00 EST) is for districts just joining the Alliance or for those Alliance members wanting a re-fresh on the Best Practices in School Budgeting framework - the foundation of the Alliance's work.


November 5, 2020

The first day of the Alliance meeting is intended to be a pre-conference session and provide an overview of the Alliance of Excellence in School Budgeting and an introduction to the GFOA best practices in school budgeting.



11:00 AM - 1:00 PM

Overview of GFOA Best Practices (Introduction to the GFOA Alliance for Excellence in School Budgeting)

November 6, 2020



11:00 AM - 11:10 AM

Welcome/ Introductions and Event Overview

11:10 AM - 12:45 PM

The Roadmap to GFOA's School Best Practices

1:15 PM - 2:50 PM

Re-envisioning Instruction Through Equitable Systems (Joyce Highhouse and Allison Carter, Pivot Learning)

2:50 PM - 3:00 PM

Wrap Up and Questions

November 10, 2020



11:00 AM - 12:45 PM

When Pandemics Collide: An Equity Opportunity in K12 Education (Phil Vaccaro and Nita Bhat, EY Parthenon)

1:15 PM - 2:50 PM

Improving Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Supports Despite Tight Budgets (Nate Levenson, District Management Group)

2:50 PM - 3:00 PM

Wrap Up and Questions

November 13, 2020



11:00 AM - 12:10 PM

Educational Equity for Students "In the Margins" (Joyce Highhouse and Monica Ng, Pivot Learning; Mary Yung, San Mateo County Office of Education; Zach Smith, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University)

12:20 PM - 1:50 PM

Resource Equity in the Time of COVID and Beyond (Betty Chang and Jonathan Travers, Education Resource Strategies)

2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Closing Discussion and Activity / Wrap Up and Next Steps

Featured Presentations:

Overview of GFOA's Best Practices (November 5)

This session on November 5 is intended as an overview of the Best Practices in School Budgeting framework for those new to the Alliance or those wanting a refresher (optional for districts already familiar with the GFOA framework).

The overview will include the 5 steps of the Best Practices in School Budgeting framework, including:

  • Plan and Prepare
  • Set Instructional Priorities
  • Pay for Priorities
  • Implement Plan
  • Ensure Sustainability


Re-envisioning Instruction Through Equitable Systems (November 6)

COVID-19 has deepened inequities in access to high-quality learning and instruction. In this session we will consider a collaborative approach to developing a vision and strategic plan to support equitable ELA and math instruction that helps students recover learning lost due to the triple pandemic (COVID, economic, racial). Also, we will highlight components of The Pivot Learning and UnboundEd Free Equity Reset Toolkit that guides districts through a process to better understand the impact of school closures on instruction and learning in ELA and math.  Additionally, we will offer advice and tools within the  toolkit to collect data that can inform an equitable learning and instruction recovery plan for your district.


When Pandemics Collide: An Equity Opportunity in K12 Education (November 10)

2020 has seen a collision of “pandemics”: COVID, racism, and the fiscal crisis. We’ve all heard about the myriad challenges that districts are facing, but this has also been a time where mindsets and priorities have been tested, and districts have had to innovate and exercise more flexibility than before. November is typically when districts begin to plan for the subsequent fiscal year. And with a few months of this school year under our belt, it’s an apropos time to reflect:

  1. How are districts making financial, resource, and operational decisions that promote equity and achievement, in ways that we may have not previously?
  2. Looking forward, how can districts use this moment as an opportunity to challenge assumptions, and make resource decisions differently to enable a post-COVID district that is fostering greater equity? Are there lessons learned from this year that we can carry forward?  


Improving Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Supports Despite Tight Budgets (November 10)

Even before the pandemic, districts struggled to meet all the counseling, mental health, and behavior needs of students. COVID 19, recession, and distance learning has increased student SEL needs while budgets are getting tighter.

Fortunately, there are commonsense, but not commonplace,  strategies that can allow districts to increase services by 30% or more without more spending. Best of all, these strategies improve teacher work life and raise the quality of services provided. Spending, staffing, and scheduling differently can be a game changer this year and in future years.

This interactive session will share concrete proven strategies and lessons learned from leading edge districts. How to customize the best practices for remote, hybrid and in person settings will also be discussed. Throughout the talk equity implications will be raised and addressed head on.

If you wish you could do more to meet the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of students and reduce the stress of staff, this session is for you.


Educational Equity for Students "In the Margins" (November 13)

No group of students have had worse educational outcomes nationally than African-American and Black students with disabilities, students in foster care, and students experiencing homelessness. In this World Cafe style session we will engage participants in reflective conversations about barriers to educational equity for our systems’ most vulnerable students. We will also consider the ways that students with disabilities have been left out of national equity conversations and what it means to have silos within our definitions of equity. 


  • Joyce Highhouse, Director, Education Programs, Pivot Learning
  • Monica Ng, Vice President, Education Programs, Pivot Learning
  • Mary Yung, Coordinator of the Statewide System of Support, San Mateo County Office of Education
  • Zach Smith, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University

Resource Equity in the Time of COVID (and Beyond) (November 13)

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, economic recession, and renewed national recognition of systemic racism have underscored the inequities that students of color and students with higher needs face in our society and in our schools. District leaders must lead the way in confronting and overcoming these challenges in our school systems, particularly when it comes to helping direct limited resources where they’re needed most, both this school year and beyond. ERS will share what we mean by “resource equity”, the ten dimensions of resource equity and how to measure them, and what they mean for you as system leaders in this moment of pandemic-induced uncertainty and as we transition to our “next normal”.


Additional Resources