Estimated Time to Complete: 2 hours

Part of effective leadership is making sure that district resources are allocated deliberately in ways that produce effective classroom instruction and improved student learning.

Resources include facilities, transportation services, energy, curriculum materials, library materials, and so on. The most important resources, however, are the personnel that a district employs, including teachers, administrators, related services providers, and support services providers. School districts spend large proportions of their budgets to pay the salaries of these personnel—80 to 85% according to the American Association of School Administrators (Ellerson, 2010). Additional funds in most districts also support efforts to build the capacity of these personnel.

This module aligns with Ohio’s Leadership Development Framework in the following areas:

  • Area 5: Resource Management Process

Discussion Questions

  1. It’s rare for teachers to know much about a district’s budget. Is that also true in your district? Why?

  2. The equity principle states that resources should be allocated according to need. More resources (on this basis) should go to needy students and to schools with the greatest proportion of needy students. How’s that working out in your district and in your school (if you work in a school instead of the central office)?

  3. OLAC’s position is that resources should be used to enhance academic achievement. What are the implications for equitable resource allocation in your district? What are the implications for adequate and equitable resource allocation statewide?

  4. If American society is inequitable, why should the public school system deploy public resources equitably, apart from the fact that federal and state law say so? Explain your thinking (to one another, if you are working in a group).


Introductory Activities

  1. Activity One

    Hold a brief conversation (10 minutes) with a team member or other colleague. Choose a person whom you believe may hold views quite different from your own. The conversation should focus on ways to make educational resource allocation fair. Some questions to guide the conversation are these: Should all schools in your district receive the same per-pupil funding? Should all schools in Ohio receive the same per-pupil funding? What measures should be used to ensure fairness in resource allocation across your district? After you hold the conversation, debrief by talking about how your perspectives are similar and how they differ.

  2. Activity Two

    This is an informal survey conducted through brief interviews. Its aim is to help you gauge views of money at your school (or in the district). Ask 10 people in your school or at the district’s central office the following question:

    • Who controls how resource are allocated here? Use the probe “Tell me more,” if you want details.

    • Why is this approach to resource allocation the one we use (at the school or in the district)?

    After completing the interviews think about what you found out. What do you think it means? What will you do as a result?

Advanced Activities

  1. Activity Three

    This activity is relevant to DLTs in which the business manager or treasurer is not a regular participant.

    Purpose: To learn how resource allocation is determined in the district.

    Procedures: This activity has three steps. Complete each step and prepare a one-page report. This can be an individual activity or a group activity.

    Step 1. Inform yourself with brief background (10 minutes) by following this link:


    Step 2. Interview the superintendent and the business manager. Ask these questions:

    • How is our budget formulated and who is involved?

    • Should the business manager (or treasurer) be involved more closely with the DLT? Why or why not?

    • To what extent should the DLT determine resource allocation?

    Step 3. Examine the district budget. Ask yourself these questions:

    • Could teachers and principals understand the document? Why or why not?

    • Is there a more accessible version for educators and the public? Why or why not?

    • Can you tell how much is allocated to each school? If so, how?

    Report: Summarize the answer to each question in 25-50 words. Interpret the findings in terms of what you think should change to improve resource allocation, alignment, and coherence. Limit the overall summary to 100 words. If your superintendent agrees, discuss your findings in a DLT meeting.

  2. Activity Four

    According to the available evidence, U.S. society and education systems in the US are inequitable. Many U.S. citizens, therefore, do not believe that schools and school districts should deploy school funds equitably (i.e., according to need). What do members of your BLT think? You probably don’t know the answer off-hand, so here are three interview questions to help you find out. Use them to ask BLT members what they think:

    1. Do you believe it is fair for high-need schools to receive more money than low-need schools? Explain your thinking briefly.

    2. Some people advise that it’s a bad idea to throw good money after bad. Do you believe students with low achievement-test scores are a bad investment? Explain the basis for your opinion.

    3. Does the concept of “institutional racism” apply to decisions about educational resource allocation? In what ways? What are the implications for your BLT?


    1. Conduct the interview either of individual BLT members separately or as a group interview of all BLT members. Use someone who is not on the BLT as the interviewer. Ask the interviewer to record answers and summarize the results.

    2. Assign reading of the report to BLT members and then and organize discussion (for an entire BLT meeting) about its implications for the equitable use of resources at the school.

    3. In the discussion, BLT members might consider the following questions:

      • What are our differences of opinion?
      • How might we discuss our differences productively?
      • Is consensus across these differences easy or difficult? Why?
      • What are the implications of our shared and differing perspectives on our decisions about the allocation of school resources?

You can earn credit and contact hours for modules, webinars, and podcasts completed on the OLAC site.

For more information, visit the Credit Corner. If you’re seeking credit for the Gifted Education Professional Development Course or the Culturally Responsive Practices Program courses, you can find that information on the course overview pages.