Step 2: Set Instructional Priorities

The budget needs to be rooted in the priorities of the district. Intentionally created instructional priorities provide a strong basis for developing a district’s budget and strategic financial plan, as well as presenting a budget document.

Best Practices in School Budgeting

A. Develop goals. Goals should be thoughtfully developed and structured to be specific, measurable, and reasonable  in order to provide a strong foundation for the budget process.
B. Identify root cause of gap between goal and current state. By finding root causes of problems, a district can identify the most effective solutions to achieving its goals.
C. Research & develop potential instructional priorities. The district’s instructional priorities should be informed by practices proven by research and also be limited in number to focus on items critical to optimizing performance.
D. Evaluate choices amongst instructional priorities. A district needs to weigh its different options for achieving its goals against one another in order to focus on those with the greatest potential for student achievement impact.

GFOA Best Practices

  • Establishment of Strategic Plans. GFOA recommends that all governmental entities use some form of strategic planning to provide a long-term perspective for service delivery and budgeting, thus establishing logical links between authorized spending and broad organizational goals.


Topic Example Documents District Examples
  • Goal Development
  • Gap Identification
  •  Instructional Priority Development
  • Evaluating Choices between Instructional Priorities


Other Resources