What is the Power of Money for Educational Leadership?
The short answer is that leadership teams lead, in part, because of their power to allocate resources. Leadership teams that fail to take charge of the money (that is, the labor, the commodities, or the budget) can’t lead because they can’t exercise this power. When a TBT decides to implement a specific instructional strategy, it is taking charge of one part of the district’s labor power. When a BLT approves the purchase of a supplemental instructional material, it is taking charge of one school-level commodity. When the DLT decides to move forward with a professional development program district-wide, it is taking charge of a portion of the overall district budget.
In traditional practice the superintendent and business manager (or treasurer) draft the budget and oversee purchases and receipts. Other personnel may or may not be involved. In Ohio, by contrast, leadership teams join with superintendents and business managers in exercising this important leadership function (Buckeye Association of School Administrators, 2013, pp. 16, 24). That’s why OLAC thinks business managers should serve as members of educational leadership teams (especially DLTs).
The business manager (or treasurer) has the technical knowledge to track the money coming in and going out. But the rest of the leadership team defines the choices for the use of the money: how to meet staffing needs; which professional development paths to pursue; and which choices to make about curriculum, instruction, assessment, support services, and community engagement. The budget is managed for these purposes, and not vice-versa, as is far too often the case (Bird et al., 2009; Lunenburg, 2010).