Some 40 administrators and others interested in school budgeting came together in January to get tips and tools to help focus the process on specific priorities and make it more transparent.
During a January 9th webinar (recorded here), our Human-Centered Design (HCD) coaches helped attendees learn how HCD could help ensure that any changes they had to make would be more targeted and gain more support from stakeholders. The webinar came as schools face the loss of pandemic related ESSER (Elementary & Secondary School Emergency Relief) funding, which expires just as a new school year begins, in September.
HCD is both a mindset and a methodology, the webinar emphasized. As a mindset, HCD is designed to bring empathy to problem solving, and as a methodology, it brings tools or methods for involving stakeholders to identify and address priorities.
HCD methods can help administrators make budgeting an opportunity to examine what’s working and what’s not and to identify those who can bring important perspectives.
Among HCD techniques our trainers suggested as having applicability to the budgeting process were Stakeholder Mapping, which helps identify people who have important insights to offer in specific areas; and Interviewing, or one-on-one sessions to elicit information that’s needed.
For setting budget priorities, applicable HCD methods might include: “Buy-a-Feature,” where stakeholders weigh in about their preferred choices for achieving certain outcomes. Planners might follow that up with an Importance/Effort Matrix, which is a structured way of choosing among different kinds of investments based both on the impact they’ll have and the level of difficulty they add to achieving that impact.
Consortium staffers concluded the webinar with strategies for communicating the benefits of planned budget changes and gaining buy-in. For those who want to learn more, the Consortium offers introductory videos on the HCD resources page of its website. We also are offering an Act 45 opportunity for applying HCD to Support Student Growth and Achievement. Our first cohort begins Feb. 8. Register on Eventbrite. Customized HCD training and other professional development are also available to suit your district’s needs as part of our Contract Services.