When Budget Cuts Impact Real People

When Budget Cuts Impact Real People

Our governor set a budget to keep our state afloat.

Our district responded with necessary cuts.

Our school community was faced with very challenging decisions.

All year, I’ve been beating the “We are family!” drum.  As the instructional leader, I now I am faced with responding in ways that 1) preserve our mission to be a quality neighborhood school that serves children and families well 2) care for a staff family, especially those most impacted by cuts.

I’ve already made mistakes along this road.  But this is a reflection that will serve to: 1)Remind me of what’s most important and 2) Keep me accountable in maintaining alignment between my core beliefs and actions.

I want to:

  • Remember that all families go through challenging times.  A helpful perspective is to see the challenge as an opportunity for the family to come together. After all, that’s what families are for.
  • Maintain transparency. It’s important to be transparent in budget-related decisions that are made by site governance and administration.  Staff should know of relevant changes as immediately as possible.
  • Get to the point. Share changes with individuals affected in clear and empathetic terms.  
  • Check-in often with effected employees.  Ask “What do you need in this time?”  Then, help them get any information they might need.
  • Acknowledge the loss.  It’s important to acknowledge that our community’s loss is real.  
  • Remember that people process change and loss in different ways. When facing loss some of us need space, while others need comfort.  It’s important to follow their lead.
  • Provide material support for staff who are excessed. As leaders, we can activate resources to help in efforts that are daunting.  Effected staff may need help training cleaning out classrooms or tying up ‘loose ends.’  Any help we can provide matters.
  • Honor staff contributions in the days preceding the transition.  We are choosing to host a luncheon that honors staff who are transitioning. For us, it is a time to celebrate their impact in the words of both students and colleagues.
  • Maintain sensitivity with forward planning conversations. While plans for the coming academic year may be upon us, it is important to attend to the reality of the moment. For example, some staff may be able to be excused from planning meetings.

At the end of the day, educational leadership is about people.  While change, budget cuts, and staff transitions are a part of our current reality, how we lead is important.  Leading well means doing right by the individuals we lead.

Image by Blower Montano via Flickr

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