A Guide to GFOA’s Alliance for Excellence in School Budgeting

Key Questions and Answers

  • What is the ‘Alliance for Excellence in School Budgeting’? The Alliance for Excellence in School Budgeting (the ‘Alliance’ for short) is a group of school districts from across the country who will work together to implement the Best Practices in School District Budgeting.
  • What are the Best Practices in School Budgeting? A series of 15 documents that provide guidance on optimal approaches to budgeting, across all phases of the budgeting process. Copies of the Best Practices in School Budgeting can be found here.
  • When will this work take place?  The next wave of the Alliance will start in late 2017 and work together over approximately one year. The goal is to work towards an improved budget process over the next two to three years as outlined by the Best Practices. We have picked this schedule because it should not place a burden on a district’s resources, compared to if we selected a more accelerated schedule.
  • What are the expectations for participating in the group? First and foremost, we want the Best Practices to be a process that helps to support a district in improving its budget process, not a burden. That said, implementing the Best Practices will take considerable effort and time from both the finance and academic staff working on the project. GFOA expects districts participating in the Alliance to develop goals for implementing the improved process and to make every reasonable effort to stay on target to achieve those goals.
  • What financial support is available to districts that participate?
    • GFOA will provide a voucher for free access to GFOA’s new eLearning technology and modules germane to school budgeting (i.e., all modules that will be needed by Alliance members) – the estimated value of the eLearning modules for two participants is $3,100.
  • Who from the district is expected to participate? GFOA requires that both the finance director (or equivalent) and academic officer participate in the group (superintendent should sponsor and could also sub for an academic person in smaller districts).
  • What are the expectations for travel?  GFOA anticipates having two meetings annually, one in Chicago and the other as a pre-conference session before GFOA's annual conference. It is expected that participants make all reasonable efforts to attend. The meetings will be scheduled far enough in advance to maximize the ability of participants to fit it in their calendar.
  • What are the expectations for helping with outreach?  A critical underlying reason for creating the Alliance group is to create a cohort of districts that can spread the word about the GFOA budget resources to peers. GFOA expects that most of this dissemination would take place through less formal, word-of-mouth opportunities. GFOA will provide members of the group with materials that will make it easier for them to share information about the best practices (e.g., links to videos, etc.)
  • What is “Smarter School Spending” (SSS)? SSS is a website that contains a wealth of free tools and templates to help districts implement the best practices. The entirety of the SSS website provides a complete strategic financial planning process.  GFOA expects that members of the Alliance will find the SSS tools very helpful and will want to use them, but using the tools is not required. If a district can find different way to implement the Best Practices it is welcome to do so.

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