Profiles in School Leadership: Leveraging Student Based-Budgeting

In the 2013-14 school year, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) introduced Student-Based Budgeting (SBB), a strategic budgeting model that fairly and equitably allocates funding to schools – including both district-operated and charter – on a per-pupil basis.

As a result of the move to SBB, Chicago’s public school principals now directly control 45 percent of the total CPS operating budget. While SBB presents significant benefits with regard to local control and decision-making, the timing of the SBB rollout coincided with significant resource constraints on schools. This fiscal reality means principal leadership is more critical than ever before. Difficult decisions need to be made, and school communities are best-positioned to make them.

At the same time, Chicago’s principals want more practical tools that help increase the quality of teaching and learning in schools, especially as it relates to instruction and SBB. In fact, based on findings from our 2014 Principal Engagement Survey, 40 percent of principals would like more support in SBB. Principals also cited a desire for more opportunities to learn from their peers to overcome common challenges with timely, innovative solutions and more examples of good practice within Chicago’s public schools.

The Fund developed this report in response to principals’ desire for more examples, and to support them as they navigate these challenges. The first few pages of the report offer a brief, recent history of CPS school budgets and the shift from a quota system to SBB. The remainder of the report includes brief profiles of principal leadership. In addition to clarifying some common misconceptions about what SBB is and what it is not, we hope these are useful tools to principals as they think about their own school budgets.

This report profiles four schools:

1. Cesar E. Chávez Multicultural Academic Center

2. Disney II Magnet School

3. Namaste Charter School

4. Charles P. Steinmetz College Preparatory High School

Read the full report to learn more about SBB and the strategies school leaders are using to leverage SBB.