Over the years the educational reform agenda has placed emphasis on high rigorous standards, performance-based assessments, improved teacher quality, research-based instructional strategies, technical assistance, intervention, technology, and accountability. The missing frontier is school finance. We need to completely rethink the functions of education and how dollars are budgeted. Right now we have a maze of federal, state and local funding with a multitude of program line items that do not allow for flexibility, confuse both the education system and the general public and tie the hands of schools to provide a quality education for the students they serve. We need a “whole picture” view of resources that presents a clear picture of spending from all sources, to avoid duplication of funds, to ensure non-fragmentation of delivery, to look for areas of efficiencies, to examine results, reallocate dollars if needed and project future needs. Budgeting is only one piece of a comprehensive system of delivery but it is critical to understand that all parts of the educational system must be aligned for success.
Dr. Barbara Stock Nielsen Former State Superintendent, South Carolina (1990-1998)