One of the best ways to combat this problem is to develop a culture (and a concrete procedure) that encourages all employees to report waste and inefficiency in a safe and constructive way. At the same time, the mantra of “cutting waste” will not magically cure the pressure on the public school budget. How should we think about the bigger issues? I would propose three basic principles in approaching the larger budget questions:
(1) A long-term approach to budgeting. Cutting $1,000 to fix a leaky roof from the budget today is short-sighted if it means we will have to pay $100,000 to repair the damage caused by the leak in a few years. (See my separate post on this subject.)
(2) Cost-cutting proposals should be specific. Calling for budget cuts in general makes for good political theater, but it takes both knowledge and leadership to propose actual cuts that might improve the district’s finances.
(3) Balance. Fiscal responsibility must be balanced again the need of our community for excellent schools– public education is itself an important pillar of our community’s economic fortunes.