Alliance for Excellence in School Budgeting Fall Meeting

Join your education colleagues to discuss school budgeting, December 1-2, in Chicago, Illinois. This event is worth 12 CPE credits.

Maximizing ARP/ESSER funding is a big topic among school districts. How are you spending the money? What challenges do you face? That topic and more will be covered at this year's Alliance event. Don't miss this opportunity to learn and collaborate to create smarter school spending!

Alliance Schedule

December 1

School districts are charged with providing a free and appropriate education to all students, generally with limited funding.  Most school districts have a strategic plan outlining the instructional goals they are attempting to meet in providing that education.  In order to ensure that those limited funds are spent in support of the strategic goals, we will introduce participants to the GFOA’s Best Budgeting Practices for School Districts framework.

Time: 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Activity Leaders:

Carol MacLeod, GFOA Senior Project Manager

Dr. Kyle Wedberg, GFOA Senior Manager

In order to ensure that funds are being budgeted and spent in a manner that supports a school district’s strategic plan, programs will be reviewed, prioritized and funding decisions will be made. In this session, we will hear from two districts on how and why using data to support budgetary decisions has provided the transparency necessary to gain support for implementing changes that support the strategic goals of the district.

Time: 10:15 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.


Matthew Lentz, Chief Financial Officer, Board Secretary, Upper Moreland School District, Willow Grove, PA

Exceptional Student education is an area of public education that continues to grow at an increasing rate. While districts struggle with meeting the needs of students with special needs, there are multiple Federal and State programs to provide financial assistance. In the session, we will hear from a subject matter expert regarding ways to address the students’ needs while maintaining a solid financial base.

Time: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Speaker: Nathan Levenson, President, New Solutions K-12, Brookline, MA

Smarter School Spending has developed several tools which can assist a district in analyzing their current financial spending picture and aid in identifying areas that could provide resources to support new or expanding instructional initiatives.  In this session, we will explore the 31 Cost Saving Options this tools provides.

Time: 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Activity Leader: Carol MacLeod, GFOA Senior Project Manager

Time: 2:00 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.

Speaker: Jason Demerath, SFO, CSRM, Director of Business Services, School District of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin

In part as a result of COVID-19, the move to remote learning, and the return to in-person learning, many students suffered significant learning losses.  Several Federal programs have been established to provide temporary supports to school districts to address those learning losses. In this session, we will learn about how to maximize the major funding programs including: Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding (ESSER)  allocated to the districts through individual states from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act, and the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act.

Time: 3:00 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.

Speaker: Sharie Lewis, CPA, SFO, Director of  Business Services and Operations, Parkrose School District 003,  Portland, Oregon

Part of the purpose of the Budget Alliance is to provide support and tools to all districts to aid in implementing and supporting the Best Budgeting practices.  In this session, we will examine several of the tools available on the SmarterSchoolSpending,org website and how to apply those tools to the budget process.

Time: 3:45 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Activity Leaders: Carol MacLeod, GFOA Senior Project Manager

December 2

Transparency is a key tenet of any budget process. The budget process should include a communications strategy for clearly communicating to the participants, stakeholders, and general public about how the process works, what decisions were made, and why it is essential for inclusion in the budget process.  In this session, we will discuss developing an “elevator speech," identifying your stakeholders, and identifying your budget messengers.

Time: 9:00 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.

Activity Leader: Dr. Kyle Wedberg, GFOA Senior Manager

As one of the original participants in the Budget Alliance, Michele Trongaard led the implementation of the GFOA Best Practices in School Budgeting in her school district.  She later moved into a similar position at a larger district. In this session, we will learn about the challenges and opportunities of introducing the process to her new school district.

Time: 9:45 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Speaker: Michele Trongaard, Associate Superintendent of Business & Finance, Mansfield Independent School District, Mansfield, TX

An essential feature of a budget that best aligns resources with student achievement is that spending on activities that support the school district’s instructional priorities is prioritized above spending on other items.  As a prerequisite to evaluating proposed expenditures for alignment with instructional priorities, a district must understand, at a minimum, the cost of the activities needed to implement the instructional priorities. Ideally, however, the district will understand the full breadth of the programs and services it offers by conducting an inventory of its current expenditures.  In this session, we will introduce the topic of Academic Return on Investment (A-ROI) which seeks to quantify the total learning impact (student learning gains multiplied by the number of students helped) per dollar spent.

Time: 10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.


Stephanie Watson, Senior Director, District Management Group

Joseph Costello, Director, District Management Group

Time: 12:45 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.

Activity Leaders:

Carol MacLeod, GFOA Senior Project Manager,

Dr. Kyle Wedberg, GFOA Senior Manager

Ready to Attend?

Book hotel now to take advantage of discounted rate extended until November 14.

1. Register

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2. Book Your Hotel

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3. Grab the Agenda


Homework Before the Meeting

About the Alliance

Alliance Logo

The Alliance for Excellence in School Budgeting is a network of school districts formed by GFOA from across the nation working to implement GFOA’s Best Practices in School Budgeting. The Best Practices in School Budgeting is a framework to enhance a school district’s budget and planning process through better alignment of strategic goals/student outcomes and resource allocation.