Empowering School Principals

Rachel Gottlieb Frank:

The Hartford school district is poised to make a dramatic shift in the way school budgets are prepared to give principals control over just about everything, including the composition of their staff, the length of their school days and years, and more.
“This is a fundamental change,” Superintendent Steven Adamowski told the school board Tuesday night.
Historically, the central office has set school budgets, determined how many teachers, social workers and other employees would work in a school, hired those employees and paid for books and programs for the classrooms.
The system made it difficult to hold schools and their principals accountable for student achievement because they had so little control of their own, Adamowski said. “In the past, we said, ‘come up with school improvement plans.’ But we gave schools exactly the same amount of money and the same way of doing things.”
To make the switch this spring to the new “student-based budgeting,” Adamowski formed a committee of teachers, principals, parents and budget office employees. What they found in their study, said Ebbie Parsons III, one of the project leaders, was that under the old system of budgeting, funding was uneven and unfair throughout the district.