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The Bottom Line

    Pre-Season Planning

    ESSER Postscript Series, Part 1: Some questions to get you started on next year's budget planning.

    Written by

    The last few years have pushed the bounds of unpredictability, and many districts’ resource allocation and budgeting practices were put to the test. Use these questions to reflect on your team's pandemic response, assess your budget software, and rebalance priorities if needed.


    How did your resource allocation formula adjust with disruptions to in-person learning?


    Different instructional models require different resource allocation models.

    • How did you fund student-teacher ratios?
    • What constituted a virtual class-size limit?
    • If your district uses a weighted funding formula, what changes did you have to make to weights, student subgroups, or the formula itself?


    How nimble and effective are your financial systems?


    • With your current technology, are you able to pull data and reports quickly, with little effort?
    • Do your systems allow you to adjust budgets and resource allocations in real time? For example, was your team able to make swift decisions or modifications during the initial period of the COVID-19 quarantine and still successfully plan for the upcoming school year in the fall?

    How can you balance newfound priorities with established ones?


    Post ESSER, you may want to continue some of the programs/personnel this funding supported. Take time to review 1) how strongly the program aligns with current district priorities and 2) how strongly students engaged with it (see our 8-part rubric). If you find that a program checks all the boxes for District Priorities, but there have been no significant Student Outcomes & Value since it began, can you justify keeping it as is?


    To support reinvestment in ESSER programs from non-ESSER sources, other programs/positions will unfortunately have to be reduced or cut. You can use the 8-part rubric to assess legacy programs as well!


    Worried about pushback? Refocus the public narrative from “making trade-offs” to “realigning goals for practical and strategic spending.” For programs being endlessly debated, you may want to implement a cycle-based budget model. This model works with stakeholders to define clear success metrics and transparently track a program’s progress over a set period of time.


    November 7, 2023


    Allovue works with districts and state departments of education across the country to allocate, budget, and manage spending. Allovue's software suite integrates seamlessly with existing accounting systems to make sure every dollar works for every student. Allovue also provides additional services such as chart of accounts and funding formula revisions.