While the economy may be turning around, local school districts nationwide continue to struggle mightily. The "new normal" of tougher budget times is here to stay for American K-12 education. So how can local officials cope? This policy brief provides a useful tool for navigating the financial challenges of the current school-funding climate, complete with clear dos and don'ts for anyone involved in or concerned with local education budgets. Author Michael J. Petrilli argues that quick fixes won't solve the problem, nor will slashing teacher salaries. Instead, creative, thoughtful, and fundamental changes are needed to address our budget crisis without hurting children. To learn more, download to the brief, and be sure to explore related Fordham publications, including "Stretching the School Dollar: A Brief for State Policymakers" and Stretching the School Dollar: How Schools and Districts Can Save Money While Serving Students Best, and Chris Tessone's Stretching the School Dollar blog.

3 ways districts can stretch the school dollar

  • Aim for a leaner, more productive, better paid workforce

  • Pay for productivity

  • Integrate technology thoughtfully

5 mistakes districts must avoid

  • Shrink the workforce by laying off the newest teachers

  • Narrow the curriculum

  • Furlough workers

  • Shortchange choice options

  • Pass the buck to families

Mike Petrilli is president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, executive editor of Education Next, and a Distinguished Senior Fellow for Education Commission of the States. An award-winning writer, he…

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